Learning to Unburden

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” E F Schumacher.

This story is a perfect example of how a simple design artifact helped me unload my foolishness of the past two decades.

Almost three weeks ago a designer friend from Canada Renn Scott posted an announcement that Daily Goods Design Labs had produced simple and innovative bags to support mobility within workplaces.

“The original idea (behind this design) was for people to move btwn mtgs from space to space once they land ‘at work”. (Renn Scott)

I decided to order a bag and offered to give Renn my feedback. Little did I realize that the bag would make me rethink what I carry between home and work and during my travels around the world.

I was a bit disappointed when the bag arrived. It looked like a simple fabric bag designed with functionality in mind rather than any deeper thought to self expression. It sat in its original packet for one week until one day I decided to take it to work.

The timing for my decision to try out this bag was not without significance. For the past two weeks I have been experiencing shooting pain in my shoulder running all the way to my elbow and wrist. For the past several years I have been carrying a backpack with every possible device stored in it. I carried one laptop, one i-pad tablet with a key board, one kindle, one remarkable tablet, one notebook, one book that I am currently reading, power cord for each of those devices, one power bank, one hard drive, sometimes, an Altoid box, a perfume bottle, sunglasses with the case, and five different types of writing instruments on a daily basis. With the advent of Covid-19, I had to add a bottle of hand sanitizer and a couple of masks to the backpack.

The new bag has forced me to rethink what I really need to carry between home and work every day. I decided to keep one laptop at work, and my chrome book at home, leave kindle at home and. remarkable at work. Now I only have my iPad with a keyboard and a pencil in this new bag. One set of power cord for the iPad, all kinds of writing instruments and one notebook. I leave the book I am currently reading in the car and take it home or to work only if I know I will have the time to read it that day.

Amazingly, this bag has done two important things for me: After 20 years of lugging everything I have everywhere I now carry only what I need that day; 2. My shoulder pain is gone.

As I look back at this experience I take a more philosophical perspective that we carry too much load on us all the time. It’s important to unload and live with only what we need within a well defined time frame. Unburdening ourselves of things we don’t need can helps us be more agile, efficient and joyful.

Thanks Renn for a wonderful gift to this world.

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