Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Flat Earth

Photo courtesy Flickr

Quite often, I realize that the earth is round, and that we do live in three dimensions rather than two. When plastic first appeared on the market in the Fifties, novelist Norman Mailer railed against the technology, and it may be his writing that turned the adjective into an insult.

Once the water bottle became a daily accessory, I realized that lightweight unbreakable synthetics greatly expand the range of options for living comfortably indoors or out. A water bottle frees one to move: a jug and tumbler immobilize.

When I think about them, the contents of my side bag are miraculous. The bag itself, nylon pack cloth, is stronger, lighter, and more durable than leather, stronger than steel, actually, and less likely to offend herbivores. I take the phone for granted, although it was not so long ago that a phone weighed fifteen pounds, was mounted on a wall, shared with ten families, and had to be cranked to generate enough juice to make a call.

There are thousands of invisible dollars in my wallet, should I wish to behave imprudently, and I can get to them anywhere on earth. There’s a cosmetic stick smaller than a pencil, a waterproof pen the size of a twig in place of an ink well, blotter, and dip nib, an emergency tent that weighs a couple of ounces, a spare travel case that weighs less, and a camera half the size of a store-bread sandwich that does more with less than a watch-the-birdie rig.

There is now very little to tie me to one location, except my regard for the location itself and for what it does for my personal economy. Futurist Buckminster Fuller factored in a thing’s weight (including buildings) as part of the design process, and I have found that invariably choosing the lightest, smallest version of an amenity relieves and greens the responsibilities of daily living.

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