Recently, as part of a writing exercise, I was instructed take a short walk around Temple Bar and write about what I noticed or was inspired by. I left my bag in the classroom and went for a wander.
I’ve walked through Temple Bar many times. What I really noticed was not having a handbag.
It was a completely new experience. My shoulder wasn’t tensed, keeping the strap up. My hand wasn’t clenched around it. I wasn’t paranoid that someone would snatch it or take something from me. I didn’t have to obsessively check it to make sure I still had everything. I wasn’t dodging people and doorways and stands. Nothing was banging off my hip or poking my thigh.
Some people walk around all the time feeling this liberated. Phone, wallet and keys in their pockets, free to swing their arms. Most are like me, though, lugging around a sack full of emergency supplies and crap.
I walked around for ten minutes and I didn’t even need my bag. I didn’t need my notebook or my diary or my book or my kindle or handcream or a packet of tissues or antibacterial gel or a biscuit or lipstick or a hairbrush or a tampon or another lipstick or gum. I didn’t need the pistachio shells or the change that rattles around the bottom, either.
But I might. Leaving the house without my bag is a risk. A risk that I won’t need to freshen my lipstick, or that I won’t get bored on a train, or that I won’t sneeze. It’s a risk I’m not willing to take.
There may come a day where I do sneeze and I get bored and hungry and my hands are dry and I need exactly 11c.
When that day comes, I’ll be prepared.
We all will.