Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I did an experiment today. It wasn't intended to be an experiment, it was just supposed to be a walk. I left the house with only a set of keys for a 20-minute brisk walk. It took me a while to decide to do this. I don't really usually like leaving the house, especially not alone. This is not because of safety issues.

So, as I used to do especially right when I first got here, I let myself walk in whatever direction I liked, turning when I pleased, with the vague idea of reaching either a park half an hour away or a neighboring district (maybe 15 minutes away). The idea of walking - no, the actual walking with no possessions on my person save for my keys and the clothes on my back, as it were, was physically light. I generally like to lug around my (currently) 6 x 8.5 inch journal, pen and marker, book to read, wallet, tissues, a water bottle, and (recently) a set of colored pencils. Individually, they are all light enough, but together they form a collective burden on walks exceeding 15 minutes.

The going out without money was interesting too. I have a friend who did an experiment where she would go out with neither money nor possessions on alternate days for a period of her life. She had to walk everywhere, even if she had an appointment all the way across the city unless she had a ride from someone (no possessions = no car and no cash and so no cabs).

Like my friend, the lack of possessions carried with cut down on my options. No stopping for coffee or buying something impulsively or giving a dollar to someone asking for change. I always think that money gives people options, in a bigger sense. And there is of course the inherent assumption that options are good. More options is just better. I'm not saying I want to wake up tomorrow morning and discover my bank account has been depleted - and there is no point in glorifying poverty from a position of privilege like the one I have essentially been born into. I guess I'm just saying that options, in certain contexts, can be maddening, and I think can create shortened attention spans. I rotate in five-minute intervals between crocheting granny squares for a blanket, perusing my laptop and the time-consuming wonders of the internet, reading an Italian-American woman's 'food memoir', and checking my new cookbooks for recipes to try. Sitting on the lime green couch in my living room, surrounded by my things, switching back and forth from one activity to another, not knowing which to focus on, because there are so many choices at my fingertips.

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