“Bag lady you gone hurt your back
Dragging all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold on to
Is you, is you, is you
One day all them bags gone get in your way
One day all them bags gone get in your way
I said one day all them bags gone get in your way
One Day all them bags gone get in your way
So pack light
Oh, Alice, Alice, Alice. I’ve finally paid attention to the song you’ve sung to me many days in the four years that we’ve known each other and while I don’t believe the song quite rings true in it’s deeper meaning for me, I believe it does ring true in my business life.
So readers, some back history. My dearest friend/co-worker/sister, Alice, has sung the Erykah Badu song “Bag Lady” to me for years now. And it’s always annoyed me. I hate being called a bag lady! But the reality is that I am a bag lady. Not to the extent of emotional baggage, although we all have a bit of that, but in regards to my work tools.
I carry my bag of stationery supplies and tools like a badge. When I leave my apartment, my black etsy bag, or my metallic Mary Poppin’s bag, or my longish white South Africa, Robben Island bag is often slung on my right shoulder. It is my protection. It may be heavy, but carrying the bag, which ever one I choose that day or week, is both my sign to the world and a reminder to myself, that I am so much more than my desk job.
I should also add that slung on my left shoulder is my filled to the brim “purse,” which is more like my suitcase-rather large and heavy. In it are not just the givens: keys, wallet, phone, ipod,chap stick, check books (yes, I have check books, two in fact, write checks, and balance my account manually), but also the extras: book, latest copy of New York Mag, planner, notebook for jots, journal for longer accounts of my feelings, bag with knitting, and any random bills that I need to pay. A lot, I know. Yet, the only time I remove things is when I am going out at night with friends and will not be needing all of these extras.
Clearly, I’m incapable of packing light in the everyday, but I will have you know, that when I travel, I do have a purse, but I don’t carry nearly as much. The bag has enough room for my travel book(s), camera, wallet, and any other book that I’m reading for fun. So then why is it so difficult for me to not carry less on my day-to-day life?
I’ve been pondering this and have come up with the following- carrying all these pieces of myself makes me happy. All of these pieces are bits of Sara and a reminder of the things I enjoy and like and who I am to myself. Don’t worry, I rarely ever run the risk of losing my identity, but it’s nice to just be able to pull out something that makes me smile. People don’t see the contents of my bag, unless I have giant rolls of paper sticking out of it, so really it’s just for me. Kind of a little secret, the way my bedroom is. My friends, family and clients know what items are in the bag I carry because they know me and how I operate, but for all the rest of the world who sees me schlepping around New York City streets with two bags, I’m just a bag lady. Someone who is going to hurt her back.
When 2011 got started, I had made a promise to attempt to lighten my load. I’ve done a bad, bad job of this. Not for a lack of trying either, but because I do not feel complete when I don’t have my “work bag”. Yes, I feel lighter and more flexible in movement, but I also feel a bit naked. Like I’m not wearing earrings. It’s very discomforting.
Again, why? Because the bag is also a sign to the world of my creativity. Headbands, bright-colored shirts, and gold and silver sparkle shoes aside, I don’t wear my identity on my self. You could not see me down the street and think, “oh, she’s a hipster, oh, she’s goth,” instead you’d see me and just think I’m an average person. Yet, lurking in those bags are my identity, my force, my inspiration and my to-dos. They are the signs of Sara, stationer and paper passionista!
I realize that the larger issue here is finding the place where I don’t have to carry my bags of work as a badge, but I don’t think that place or day will happen until I have my own studio and am making my own time and schedule and not restricted by a corporate desk job. I am working on this in the moment at an urgency that many an unhappy person has, which means that the bag becomes another way to remind myself of the things I MUST do to keep moving forward. I don’t carry the bag just to carry the bag. I carry the bag to remind myself that my business is a constant part of me. It is where I want to grow and it is my dream and therefore should not die because I don’t have 8-10 hours a day to commit just to it. By carrying the bag of tools and supplies, I am aware that I need to fold envelopes and cut out liners and do something creative every free moment that I have and can because if not, the dream runs the risk of dying. Something I refuse to allow.
In conclusion, I think it’s safe to say that my bag is like my superhero cape. It makes me feel stronger, although my back weaker, and empowered. For those reasons alone, I will gladly carry my bag every day that I walk my steps to my 9-5 and smile knowing that the future is just a little bit brighter because I’m making my dream more of a reality.
Do you have a bag story? Are you a bag lady that just wants to come out and say, “yes I’m one and proud of it!”? Well share. Please do. I’m not the only bag lady out there with a dream.
Oh and Erykah Badu, thanks for the song!