Take Only What You Can Carry

I have a rule when visiting certain retail establishments; I can only purchase what I can carry. No carts or baskets allowed, which provides a mechanism for limiting my expenditures. This is a very effective rule in craft stores and book stores. In my humble opinion, it should be applied to toilet paper purchases too. I remember one excursion to the craft store, when my child was young. We were in search of materials to create a birthday present for a dear friend out west, and my little one was required to put the ‘no basket’ rule to the test. With such enthusiasm and joy they willingly adopted the idea, ran with it, testing the outer limits without fear or embarrassment. My kid is accepting of rules but loves to explore the reliability of the boundaries. With little interest in a specific object to purchase, they set about on an exploratory adventure in Michaels playing with the physics of balance, happily testing the equilibrium of many three dimensional objects. 20 minutes later we left with 3 Styrofoam cones, 2 rectangular blocks, a large ball and some stickers. All were carried out, without a bag, on a 3×3 piece of green foam. They were very proud, not because we bought eight items, but because they mastered the task. Their creativity, paired with the limitations provided, created an adventure during which we had a blast.

Sometimes our limits are clearly defined for us. At other times, we have the flexibility to identify those boundaries for ourselves. We can get so caught up in the limits we set, in keeping the balls in the air, that we are unprepared when things change and everything falls down upon us. We are living with circumstances that have placed new limits on us, quite abruptly. Learning to distinguish what provides us strength, or pushes us over the edge, will help us discover how much we can carry.

We all have goals, they are necessary. We often see a picture in our head of what life should look like, this provides us purpose.  But, if we are too vigilant about the need to re-produce that image and fail, our failure can distract us from any joy that was a part of that journey. This can keep us from being able to reassess our goals; maybe the goal we chose was unattainable, maybe it was a sucky goal. Pick a new one. On the flip side, if we succeed to meet some goal, it doesn’t mean we are released from our obligation to pick a new one, and keep moving forward.

So here’s the thing, maybe it’s time to take a second to step back from those big goals. Put the cart back. And the 15 packages of toilet paper. Take a second. Get to know the limitations of the circumstances we find ourselves in. See if you can find a little bit of adventure in taking only what you can carry.

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