“What if” Weighs a Lot

If I have one great talent, it is asking the question “What if….”

It is a question I use in my day-job career: “What if we tried to do this, would the rankings improve…”

It is a question I use in my writing: “What if this happened, what would happen to the world?”

It is a question I ask myself in my daily life.

I like to plan ahead. I will think logically through the whole day ahead of me to decide what goes into my bag. I do this for bike rides, for days at work, for weekend shopping trips.  This is how I pack suitcases for trips. I ask “what if…”

This takes time, preparation. It takes a few moments of mental modeling the entire day ahead to know to slip a granola bar in my purse for when the kid gets hungry between stops.

backpack with tent and sleeping pad

I pack as light as possible, but I pack for every contingency.

Yes, I often carry a full first-aid kit.  Because I’m often going places by foot, I also have to consider the weight and bulk of each item.   Does the possible need for the item out-weigh it’s potential for use?  How easily can I purchase something while I’m out if the need arises?

I’ve gotten the suitcase thing down. I can go anywhere in a light carry-on and a big purse or laptop bag. I’m happy to use garments or objects in multiple ways, reusing things to cut down on the bulk.

One place I haven’t gotten it figured out yet is hiking. My backpack contained pounds of what-ifs. An ace bandage, spare batteries, a spare pen for my journal….  All of these what-ifs.  All of these tiny anxieties. I haul them around with me for a whole week and then wonder why I packed them at all.

Releasing what-ifs

The phrase describing them as “anxieties” in the paragraph above is particularly telling.  I have a blog post brewing about anxiety. I write a lot about it, but I rarely address it head on.  For now, I will say that I know my job is to ask the question.  I know my talent is seeing the logical conclusions of the what-if scenarios that I consider.

But now that I think about it, I don’t really know whether it’s my job to carry everything to deal with those contingencies.

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3 thoughts on ““What if” Weighs a Lot

  1. I’ve done several types of camping, everything from driving to cabins in my truck to hiking in with a tent and all my gear. I know I’ll probably need different stuff for each type of trip, but the best discovery I’ve ever made is learning how to repurpose things I know I will need so that I won’t have to carry as many “what if” items. I used to bring an ace bandage, a small washcloth, and several other items, but the bandannas I wear to keep the sun off my neck, or soak in water to stay cool, can take the place of many other items. Ace bandage, washcloth, sling, small satchel, etc.

    Sometimes, it’s just about learning to see old things in new ways.

  2. For me a lot of those things are luxuries and nice to have if I can spare the room/weight. But one of the reasons I love to learn and practice bushcraft skills is to relegate most of them to luxuries, not necessities. If I have a good knife and some time, I know several ways to get a fire going without matches, I can carve untensils or other things I need, can make a bit of cord or rope from natural materials, find some food, etc. Suddenly a bag full of stuff is reduced to one good tool and some knowledge. If I didn’t have a good knife, well I learned how to forge my own, and reduced that necessity to a skill as well, that can’t be stolen from me or dropped in a river.
    I find it translates well to an everyday mindset as well. I don’t have all the tools for a job or project at work? I push the skills I’ve collected into new ways of thinking, and am far better at improvising solutions because of it. If I can increase even my theoretical self reliance for the basics of life, it brings a confidence to the other stuff.
    But I’m still going to pack some duct tape, a lighter, and bacon. Sure, I can get by without them, but that doesn’t mean I have to 🙂

  3. Pingback: Anxiety | A.K. Anderson | Science Fiction and Fantasy Author

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