I have a little routine for loading up my car before heading to work—travel mugs of iced coffee and HINT water go into the front and center cupholders (trip #1), then my USPS backpack goes behind the driver’s seat (trip #2). Once at work, since the parking lot I use is a bit of a hike from my office, I drop off my backpack and drinks at the back door to my building, then head off to park. Day after day after day.

My backpack is something of a clown car, packed to the gills with necessities (work keys, wallet, OTC meds, spare earrings, a mini-umbrella, and maybe a lunch) as well as a mini (mid-sized?) stationery store.

Required notebooks:
1) Levenger Junior Circa for master action, waiting, and someday/maybe lists for both work and home
2) Hobonichi Techo—my calendar “bible”
3) Pocket notebooks—one each for work and personal to-do lists

Weighing in at just over two pounds, this doesn’t seem too outrageous.

The pens, though, are kind of out of hand. No—not “kind of.” VERY out of hand.

What happens is that I spy a pen I haven’t used in awhile then toss the whole case into the depths of my backpack. Repeat that a few times and eventually I find myself lugging around a very hefty load. (Why ever could my shoulders be aching?!)

In my defense, I have a writing implement to suit every mood. A ballpoint mood! A gel pen mood! A vintage mechanical pencil mood! I’m ready for any pen whim, and honestly, find comfort in having so many of my favorite things with me, even if they do weigh as much as a small farm animal. Ah, pens—my personal security blanket.

So imagine my horror when I threw open my car’s back door yesterday morning and realized that I HAD NOT loaded my backpack into the car!! ACK!! Talk about feeling unmoored (and a little bit woozy and disoriented). No notebooks! No pens! No security blanket! However would I face the day?!

I briefly considered driving home (about 20 minutes each way), but then took a deep breath and decided to embrace the challenge. Could I get through the day without all of my stuff? Could I go all “stationery minimalist” for an entire work day? Do I really need to lug around 85 pounds of paper and pens to do my work?

Turns out, I do not.

Coincidentally enough, I’d tucked an unused Levenger Circa Jotlet into my jacket pocket before leaving for work. (Premonition, maybe?) Why not give the Jotlet a whirl, along with the Ti2 Techliner that’s always in my pants pocket.

One pen. One notebook. A mere four ounces.

Oh, plus a dual-ended red/graphite Caran d’Ache pencil. Maybe 5 grams?

This super-minimal stationery kit got me through the work day without a hiccup. A stationery triumph and lesson learned. Travel lightly. Or at least lighter.

I’m not losing the notebooks, but I can surely carry FAR fewer pens. I realize that now.

In the course of the morning, I went from unmoored to unburdened.

Did you hear that? That sound in the distance? That’s my shoulders sighing in relief.


7 thoughts on “Unmoored

  1. LOL, love it!!!! Yes, an almost Zen reduction to utter simplicity! Before I retired I had similar things with my day pack, stuff I might need, might not need, could maybe somehow someday need, stuff I would never need…BUT to be fair, my desk drawer always had a multi tool, knife sharpener, small screwdriver set, pens, ink, dental floss, assorted meds, deodorant and such, as the need for self sufficiency was a lesson I learned early on. And nowadays, I carry next to nothing but the first few times i left my cell phone accidentally, I almost felt naked and vulnerable, But now, if I leave it, no biggie, it reminds me of my youth when not being constantly available or plugged in, gave a feeling of freedom.

    • That’s a great feeling—getting away from being constantly reachable. I would LOVE to leave my phone at home sometimes but I never know when my 90-year old mom might need me so I remain “on call.”

  2. Ah, this is a subject close to my heart. The thing is, we all know that we can live perfectly well with less, get through the day with a few well-chosen tools, buy lunch on-site rather than lugging it in with us to work. But do we want to? Is it going to make us happy, day after day? I want to carry more things with me everywhere I go than I can actually manage. It’s not because I need a security blanket, or because I think I’m going to use them. It’s because I love them and I don’t want to leave them behind when I could be enjoying having them with me.

    • When I travel, and REALLY can’t take much with me, I get homesick for my stationery stuff. So many good emotions and stories associated with them!

  3. What a great blog post! Makes me want to use my Techliner. I’m kind of obsessed with keeping my backpack light, since I usually commute by bike. But my work office desk is loaded up with paper, pens, and pencils– the overflow from my tiny home office.

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