Pack Animals

Why do I have so much stuff? I don’t mean stuff in my apartment; the stuff I live with necessarily. I have purged many of my possessions over the last years. I mean stuff I have on me right now. I realized tonight as I was heading out that I carry a lot of items with me. Whenever I want to change my backpack to a smaller bag for example, I need to transfer so many things! This evening I was making sure I had a small package of tissues when it hit me that I never go out of my apartment here in Mexico without tissues. Ever. Since I moved here, I always need a tissue: emergency toilet paper naturally,(essential here) but there is also so much dust and pollen in this dry, desert town that my nose always seems to be running. So besides the package of necessary tissues, the other things I seem to think I need to have on my person at all times are: glasses-sun and prescription, my phone of course, a small notebook to write down or draw all manner of things, an extra hair-clip, a case for pens and business cards (you just never know), the current book I am reading, earphones, wallet, keys and hand lotion. And that’s just my SMALL bag! Since I am a teacher, I also carry a backpack with school books and a stack of essays, and sometimes a computer. I see many other people carrying similar loads. When did this happen? How did we become a population of kangaroos with a pouch for STUFF our constant appendage?

When I was younger, I carried almost NOTHING. Ahhh, the paraphernalia-free days of youth. I don’t think I owned or schlepped a purse or backpack until I was in college. Did I even carry a key to my house? No. I am sure my mother hid it somewhere outside. Or come to think of it, I don’t think she ever went to bed until I was home. So, that solved the key-carrying dilemma. In high school and beyond, I used to carry a wallet in the back pocket of my Levis, just like a boy. It was all I needed, and I was hands and shoulders-free.

Ever since then, It’s like for every year I age I add another item to my bag. This year, it is a ziplock of dog biscuits to feed furry friends and strays alike, if I happen upon them. 

It seems worse when I travel. I pack all kinds of things just in case as if I was going to some god-forsaken corner of the planet where there will not be a store to buy necessary sundries for hundreds of miles. Many years ago, I traveled around Mexico for a month with a backpack not much bigger than a breadbox—without wanting for a thing. By limiting my choice of clothing, I was free of a fair amount of daily decision making.

One locale I really notice this degree of stuff being carried is the beach. We carry a lot of stuff to the beach, with some people employing “beach buggies” that resemble a small 4 wheel drive wheelbarrow having everything strapped on with bungee cords. My teenage friends and I carried a…..towel. That’s it. nada mas. This was even before sunscreen was terrified into usage and so we didn’t even need that. Of course, we were the generation without the”necessary” and time-sucking phone with apps such as FB, snapchat and Instagram to record our activities. Don’t worry, this is not another rant about the “good old” techno-free days, where everyone wasn’t tied to their devices. Aside from the social pariahs they turn us into, they are at least one of the lightest things we carry. There is no noble high-ground here, only a weight issue I think. And also a memory one. I feel like I need a checklist in the morning to make sure I go off with everything I need. Not to mention, a weekly massage to assuage the damage to my back.

 Maybe instead of adding, I should try removing one item a day to assure me that I absolutely can get along without it and, free of the weight once again, hop along pouch-free.

 

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico