My floor looks like a bohemian bomb went off. As usual, I’m finding myself struggling to pack appropriately. Just how much to pack? The lighter, the better. But, of course! That’s always the advice given and, unmistakably, it’s the best dang advice. But who really cares about ‘good’ advice? I mean, if I wanted good advice, I would have subscribed to Do It Right the First Time Around magazine, and ‘liked’ Good Advice on Facebook. I have never considered doing either of these things, nor will I.
Why restrict one’s self to a light-weight pack full of mere essentials, when you could so easily opt to include a bunch of shit you maybe/might/eh be able to use? Seriously, I don’t get it.
Perhaps the point has been driven home. (Or has it?) I’m not so much a light packer. To be honest, it’s not because I’m fundamentally averse to the pack-light mantra. Okay, maybe a little. Rather, it’s that I have a difficult time ‘saying no’ to things with potential. The list of hypothetical, ‘maybe’ scenarios one can conjure up in their head- with regards to traveling abroad- is overwhelming, and I’m just not certain that packing light is really the way to go.
A tale from this morning, as it relates to packing:
I woke up this morning and thought to myself, “I’m going to downsize today. Today is a day for Packing Light. Operation Pack Light- you’re on!” I said a few more things like this but, if I were to wager a guess, I’d bet you get the gist by now. I got out of bed and took a look at my floor. I couldn’t find it. I realized this was going to be more work than I had thought, and decided it was best to not waste any time. I kicked a bunch of crap to the corner of my room and made space for what would become the designated Discard Pile. Expert tip: It helps to use a real DISCARD-card from one of your childhood board games, as such will more easily delineate discard territory. I was immediately pleased with myself to see just how much space (a lot!) I was willing to sacrifice to the Gods of Neglected Shit. After a few pats on the back and a foot massage (bad sprain from last week’s tetherball tourney-more on that later), I began sorting through my things. The minutes quickly turned to hours, and the process began to feel as though it were an exercise in mental organization. Therapy, at no cost! My selection was narrowing down and before I knew it, the size of the discard pile was twice as large as my Most Wanted pile.
After nearly three hours of sorting, I had reached an end. In fact, it turned out to be a rather confusing culmination, but this I did not yet know. I was just about to celebrate the success of Operation Pack Light when my Mom walked into the room.
“What are you doing?” she asked, looking around.
“I’m packing!” I proclaimed, excitedly. “Well, unpacking and then repacking,” I continued. “See, I had too much stuff before, so I thought it would be best to downsize, for once and for all.”
“Looks like you did a pretty good job,” she said, sounding sarcastic. “That’s the stuff you’re getting rid of?” she asked, pointing to the discard pile.
“Yep,” I replied. “Not bad, huh?”
“Not bad,” she answered, “But if you don’t mind me asking, what are you bringing? Surely you’re not leaving empty-handed?”
“What do you mean?” I asked, turning around. “I’m bringing…” At that moment, my voice trailed off, as I realized, upon facing the stacks of things, that the Most Wanted pile was no longer. Somehow, in the process of attaining mental clarity and physical expansion, I had managed to get rid of everything. Not a single item remained in the to-be-packed pile, leaving me with a heaping mound of Discarded Junk.
“Unbelievable!” I shouted. “There was stuff there, like, minutes ago! I don’t know what happened!” And I seriously didn’t. Or, I guess I did, but I was shocked that the Operation, at once so impressive in its success, had become reminiscent of my eighth grade basketball days- in other words, an epic failure.
“Maybe you should think about starting over,” my Mom said, grinning.
She walked out of the room and left me, dejected and morose, on my bedroom floor. ‘What the hell am I going to do now?’ I thought to myself. I had an enormous pile of things deemed unworthy for the upcoming trip, and had absolutely nothing to show for my initial, purported victory.
At that point, I decided the best thing I could do, the only thing I could do, was go shopping. After all, I was out of things!
I grabbed my purse, ran down the stairs and out the door. As I got into my car, I faintly heard the sound of my Mom calling after me, but it was too late to turn around. I was on a mission- the second mission of the day, mind you-and as such, I was determined to focus solely on the challenge at hand. Replace all previously discarded trip items with better, more useful shit.
-Four hours later-
After a major win at the mall, I returned home, my spirits now revived. I called out to my Mom from the driveway to ask for a hand with the unloading. I had already begun removing bags from the trunk when she came outside.
“Woah,” my Mom said, inspecting my car’s backseat. “Is all that for the trip?”
I turned to face her, totally peeved. “Dude, Mom, it’s not that much,” I replied. “Can you just give me a hand or what?”
“Yeah, sure,” she said, “Obviously. I only say that because, well, it looks like you have over a dozen bags here and, you’re supposedly trying to fit this all into one backpack…”
She looked over at me and, immediately detecting my annoyance, decided not to take the conversation any further.
“These are things I need, Mom,” I told her, “so if you could just help me bring it in the house, I’d really appreciate it.”
“You got it,” she muttered, lifting one of the heavier bags onto her shoulders.
We made it into the house after three back-and-forth trips to the car. “Impressively efficient!” I boasted to my Mom, somehow hoping to convince her that she had just been part of something really brilliant.
“Whatever you say,” she replied. “I’ve got some things to do downstairs. Can you handle the rest of the packing bit?”
“Yeah, of course,” I replied. “Thanks for your help, by the way.”
She nodded at me and smiled before proceeding to head downstairs. Just like that, it was back to square one. Me and the Stuff. Myself, and a dozen-ish shopping bags, filled to the brim with ‘Necessities’. This time around, I felt confident in my abilities to pack, unattended.
Some six or so hours later, and the ‘moral’ of the story:
I won’t bore you with details of the afternoon re-pack session, suffice it to say that I arrived at two major revelations. The first one being that, sometimes, things are easier the second time around. Go ahead, write that one down.
The second revelation was that, when preparing for a trip overseas, it’s not about how light you pack, but how right you pack. File that away somewhere. Which is precisely the reason I decided to revise the Operation’s formerly disclosed name-Operation Pack Light-to something more accurate. Something to the tune of…Operation Pack Right! Exclamation point is necessary to convey packer’s enthusiasm. Omit it, and others may not understand just how excited you really were at the time of packing.
Now, a lot of you are probably thinking, ‘Enough already! Tell us what you decided to pack!’ If you’re thinking that, you’re right on, because that’s exactly what I’m about to do. Kind of. I’m going to spare you the list, as it’s somewhat extensive, but rest assured, I’m now fully equipped with the most waterproof/fireproof/bulletproof- and all around shit proof– gear you can possibly imagine. If you were to run into me on the street, adorned with all my new things, you wouldn’t recognize me. I tried everything on (all together) in front of a full length mirror, and was quite proud of my intimidating exterior. Like the love child of a beastly, indestructible gear-head and a relaxed, backpacking hippie, I exude a ‘Don’t Mess With Me, Please’ attitude…like no other.
Why did I choose to go this route? To foolproof my overseas existence? Because the world is full of dirt, dust and flaming knives, and one ought to be prepared accordingly.