Friday, August 14, 2009

Enforced Simplicity

Have you noticed how much stuff people carry around day to day? Coffees, cellphones, mp3 players, maybe a folder of compact disks for the car, wallet, keys, lunch, maybe a book, notebooks, clean underwear and on and on...

What is all that stuff?

I get annoyed with my courier bag with a couple notebooks, pens, lunch, a sunglasses case and a cellphone. Seriously, it feels like a friggin' anchor on my back and it's not really that much stuff. If I drove a car every day, I imagine I'd find more shit to bring with. I used to do things like stop for a smoothie on the way to work, which was one more thing to carry around. The trunk of the Rat-Buick, back in the day, was a veritable storage locker with every possible item I could ever need (except, you know, the thing I needed right away).

Luckily, I don't drive a car anymore, except in dire circumstances. I ride my motorcycle instead. Which kind of makes carrying superfluous items impossible. The motorcycle suits me because I prefer to travel very light. I've got a tank bag for traveling, which can be combined with my courier bag bungeed to the back seat if I feel like pretending I'm a truck. Under the seat is my tool kit and a tire repair kit. So equipped, I'm ready to conquer the world - or at least the world within a twenty-four hour riding range of home.

There have been several times in my life when I've lived out of my suitcase, essentially, for prolonged periods. The curious thing I've found is that I rarely miss the stuff I don't have with me. In fact, it's pretty liberating not having to deal with all that junk. While all the suckers with a doodad for every possible contingency are still packing, I'm having a cup of coffee and ready to roll - if I haven't already left.

So it's not that having stuff is bad, exactly. More that if you've got something, it better be something you'll really miss if you don't have it. Something you don't really mind carrying. If you look around, you'll probably notice a whole bunch of stuff you haven't even touched for years, except maybe to move it to a different spot. Seems kind of silly, doesn't it?

This is why I'm all for having a small house. And small transportation. If there's not room to stash it or carry it, then I probably don't need it. Enforced simplicity, for me, anyhow, is a good thing.