When I first started taking the train to NYC for work every week, I’d stuff all of my belongings in my everyday purse.
It’s a slightly larger bag, though not of the used-to-be-trendy oversized variety. I don’t need as many things as I carry, but I still carry a bunch—especially on a 5am-to-10pm day in NYC. A laptop. A variety of chargers. A sweater. Socks. A water bottle. A lunch bag that doubles as a cooler. A reusable shopping bag for bringing things like cupcakes and bagels home. It’s like Mary Poppins’ bag but with less magic and more crumbs.
That bag filled up quickly—and got heavy quickly. So I opted for a new bag, a very lovely navy floral canvas one from Target, which was closer to a traditional overnight bag. It was quadruple the size of my everyday purse and came with an option to switch out the two smaller straps for one large strap. Dreamy.
I’ve been toting that giant bag from Harrisburg to Manhattan and back again for six months now. And while it does hold everything with plenty of room to spare, it is still stupid heavy.
On Monday night Jenny heard me complaining about not wanting to carry it around all day and suggested I take my backpack instead—a relentlessly practical Lululemon bag I got on clearance when I worked at a juice bar. After a few initial hesitations (why is it so hard to pivot from something known?), I unpacked my regular bag and packed the backpack instead.
It took about five seconds to realize I should have been using my backpack all along.
I mean, there are so many compartments. How did I forget about all of these compartments?! There is a designated space for every single absurd thing I carry. It’s less bulky and so much easier to fit in front of me on the train. And it’s like a quarter as heavy as my other bag felt, even though it’s carrying all of the same things.
Which meant on Tuesday, when I inevitably had to run to the subway because I’m chronically bad at estimating NYC transit timing, I didn’t feel like my shoulders were going to fall off in the process. I was only thinking Am I Going To Miss My Train AGAIN? and not, Does This Bag Weigh As Much As My Body? I Think It Does.
Note: I did not miss the train! I’m on it right now! I jumped on the subway car just as the doors were closing like a tried and true New Yorker, and 100% credit the backpack with shaving a second off my total travel time and making the leap possible.
Bonus: Backpack Revolution 2019 came with its own slogan:
“It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.”
The internet attributes this quote to C.S. Lewis, Lena Horne, and Lou Holtz, so maybe just pick your favorite of the three and pretend they said it. Or pretend you said it, like Michael Scott.
I thought of the quote ironically at first, sort of like those de-motivator posters. 99% humor, 1% truth. But obviously, there’s a real life application just beyond backpacks. So much of what I carry could be lighter if I carried it differently.
Work stress. Grief. The one hundred thousand daily thoughts I have about the future. Plenty of other things, big and small.
These things can be carried differently in a practical way. I could implement better habits to make more forward-moving progress with less effort. And they can for sure be carried differently in a mental/emotional way. I could calm down, for example, and run a few more slants every now and then.
If the joy from yesterday’s commute is any indication, it would probably be worth a try. Because as Wayne Gretzky and Michael Scott say, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
This Autumnal Playlist is full of delightful selections.
I made a recipe from Salt Fat Acid Heat! And I’ll for sure make it again. The focaccia was an easy winner.
So thrilled for Elementary Coffee and their new location on North St!