What Do You Carry in Your Backpack?

The Items That Tell Our Story

Man has been carrying bags for over 5,000 years. What began as a sack made from animal hide, allowing warriors to carry arrows into battle to slaughter their enemies evolved into burlap (potato) sacks used to wrap bread and moonshine for far distance travel on horseback, and into the modern day fashionable backpack we now carry.

Backpacks provide the luxuries of home wherever and whenever. We fill them with items we believe define us, unable to live without them on a day to day basis. Whether it be school, work, travel or errands — backpacks have become our go to for collecting and carrying the most relevant items in our lives.

My backpack holds various things. Some generic and some unique. The most valuable is my sanity. I take it with me every time I leave the house, better safe than sorry. Most of the time when I walk out the front door I have a set plan only to be derailed and end up where the day takes me.

I could be gone all day or far longer than I intended and I need to be prepared. Maybe it’s a bit of a psychosis. I’m attached to it and at times feel uncomfortable when I leave without it.

When in a spell of agoraphobia I struggle to leave the house and perhaps my thought process is bringing some of the house with me. Sort of like comfort foods but instead the items that normally surround me. It’s a security thing.

In my backpack there are necessities such as my psych meds, tissues, trail mix, water and Advil in case I get a headache, a map, hand sanitizer and a bit of spare cash. A mini size hand held light with an extra set of AAA batteries, a Swiss Army knife and a can of mace to keep myself safe out here in the middle of nowhere with a zero crime rate. Better to be prepared.

Some mornings I head into town and purchase a local newspaper different from the one delivered to my house, roll it up and place it in the side pocket. There it will stay until my husband and I read it together when he gets home from work that night.

Able to borrow up to 45 items at a time from the library, I stuff my bag with books, magazines, movies on DVD and music on compact disc.

I go to the farmer’s market every Friday afternoon. I stop at each table and open my backpack wide while farmer’s pour in fresh produce in exchange for money.

I go into the city, park in the public parking garage and walk a mile to the art store to purchase supplies.

The remaining items are based on my work and revolve around creativity. These items are equally necessary.

Typical items are my laptop and charger, headphones, an extra battery pack for electronics so I can work wherever I go and when the inspiration strikes. My writer’s notebook comes with me so I can jot down all my observations and interactions.

My camera. It’s important to take photographs of everything I see. A story idea might develop and I’ll want to remember all the details.

I always take a book with me, whatever it may be. Right now it’s Amanda Palmer’s, The Art of Asking.

Pencils, drawing pens and a sketch book. I could be inspired at any moment. That’s why I also carry watercolors, acrylic paint markers and charcoal. I mean, you never know, right?

What we carry in our backpack speaks of who we are and our chosen lifestyle. Perhaps nothing else defines us quite like those contents and the style of the backpack itself indicates who we are but, how much thought do we put into it, really? Is it a well designed plan or security and intuition?

What do you carry in your backpack?

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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