The Things We Carry

Every day, I carry around a workstation, entertainment center, snack station, and medicine cabinet with me.

For example, here's an inventory of what's in my bag right now: 

laptop, laptop charger, phone, phone charger, headphones, notebook, sketchbook, pencil case (8 pens, 1 pencil, 1 eraser) a case of glue dots, a scrap piece of paper with notes, hand sanitizer, Ibuprofen, migraine meds, Band-Aids, Dramamine, sunscreen, lip balm, a roll of Tums, a book, my wallet (4 credit cards, 1 library card, 1 insurance card, 2 ID cards, 2 subway passes, 4 gift cards), a tin of nuts, an energy bar, a can of coffee, my keys, a tape measure, an extra jacket, and two masks. 

It may seem silly, but it does feel like I need all of these things. What if I need to work? Or get bored? Or scrape my knee? What if someone else gets a headache, or needs to write down a number real quick? I just like to be prepared. It makes me wonder though, of all the things that I'm carting around, how much of it is actually helpful vs burdensome, and what, if anything, I should put down. 

And when I expand those questions to include not just physical objects, but the thoughts, fears, hopes, questions, and expectations that I'm also holding, I wonder how I'm able to even get out the door. 

In 2018, I asked 40+ women, "What are you carrying around right now?"

In their answers, I was struck by both the sheer number of things we are all hauling around on a day-to-day basis, how much overlap there is among us, and also how much I didn't know about what they were carrying until I asked. Their responses became the What We Carry tote bag, on which I tried to visually capture what I heard about the things we carry, on our shoulders and our backs, and in our hearts and minds.

For me, it's a reminder to start from empathy because everyone is holding a lot these days, and we often don't know the entirety of anyone else's load. 

It's also a prompt to think more about what we must carry and what we choose to, and how we can continue shifting the balance towards those things that nourish us and away from those that no longer do. 💗


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