Lao Tzu (c.604-c.531 BCE), from the Tao Te Ching, China once said; “The usefulness of a pot comes from its emptiness.” If that is true…then I really need to re-think the contents of my handbag!
I’m sure we can all rapport with likening our idol tote to that of a Magician’s hat – sometimes we are confident and pride ourselves on our ability to fetch overworked items from known compartments; other times we are frustrated and bemused by what we extract in their place.
Recently I attempted to draw a pen from my ‘bag of tricks’, as the one’s attached to strings in the post office had all given notice and found new homes – instead I pull out a plastic dragon that was discerning and curiously sticky. My first thought was not plagued by efforts of how this little creature managed to find its way into my designer sack – Mr. Percy was clearly the ‘seed planter’ – but rather what he needed to dabble in to feel this tacky. Honey sachet…hope not. Lollipop from the Doctor’s appointment…geez I really hope not. Something on toddler’s hand that has adhered during said ‘planting’…nope, they’re clean…
In order to find closure in my personal torment, I thwart search in public and head for the car. As I unpack weeks of forgotten remnants and expired necessities; I begin to feel disappointed in myself – for what clearly began as mindful preparation, had germinated into unconscious neglect. When did my reliable shoulder sling get so heavy and unreliable?
For months now friends have been quizzically pinpointing the hilarity of my ‘just in case’ approach to brief outings. A play date that may potentially last two hours somehow seems to qualify for requiring the same checklist as a week-long camping trip. As I reflect on my reasoning and attempt to justify my need for even the most trivial items; I conclude that I am fearful of the ‘what if’. I marvel and commend those that have all the surety their children won’t require more than a handful of wipes, or a spare change of clothes should water play become a swimming lesson…
Today I packed light, and guess what happened? We walked faster, freer, had space to carry new memories, and only used what we packed for the right occasion.
The rest after all, isn’t useful without need.
Photo by: Nadia Deguara