The Need to Remain Light

Those still commuting, either by choice (like me), or because they must, face many challenges today. Omicron is causing delays in public transportation due to shortages of workers, and it’s creating issues in stores, or public places, as more people are trying to avoid being around each other. Add to this the weather, with unpredictable snow, rain, and gusts of wind, and you can find yourself dealing with a massive storm, and needing to move fast in a heartbeat.

The need to remain adaptable and agile is more important than ever. Adapting to the situation at hand is calling for a different way of doing things.

There is a need to remain flexible, and for that you must remain light. Light in what you carry, light in what you wear, and - more importantly - light in how you think.

Mindset is primary here. Being light begins with how we think, as you plan what your commute would be. Visualizing what can go wrong and making a plan for it, however that plan must remain light and flexible.

Plan for a normal day, plan for a stormy day, plan for an emergency during the commute, plan for delays and things not going your way, but have open-ended plans. Count on Murphy to always show up and be prepared.

With a good light plan comes also the ability to select what you’ll bring with you, and how. The idea, again mindset, is to remain agile and be able to adapt to the changes. So, think minimal, out of the way stuff. Bulky backpacks, or heavy briefcases will not allow you to remain fluid. Carrying all those items that you mostly don’t use, ever, will slow you down. Think simple: simplify what you carry, how you dress, and the types of things you need.

When I do this, I usually tend to think about priorities: which are the most important things I need to have that would enable me to:

  • Do my work
  • Be safe
  • Get to what I need

I’m commuting because I need to work, so I need my working tools, in my case a laptop or tablet. I also know that I’m commuting to an urban environment, a city, where things are available, either by buying them, or, in case of an emergency, getting to them. I don’t need to carry a ton of stuff that I know I will not use or need, I can get it if I need it.

It is also important to understand what to wear, so you can be warm, dry, or cool. And be able to remain light. We’ve talked about performance wear before, but this goes beyond that, this is about purposely dressing to be functional, to be presentable while remaining capable.

I think you get the point: we need to remain light. We need to learn to be flexible, adapting to the current situation and times, and flowing with it. The more we learn to do this, the better, and safer our commute will be.

Here’s an example of my stuff when I go really light. I would not recommend the Arc’teryx Blade 6 (or its bigger brothers) for commuting during wet weather, they are not ready for that, but the Blade 6 is a great, out of the way little backpack that forces you to be intentional about what you carry.

  • Laptop and charger: my main work tool.
  • Small pouch with phone charger, small powerbank, and other cables: for work, and emergencies.
  • Small pouch with my entry kit: during an emergency if I need to get to things, I should be able to open things.
  • Small LED light: you always need a source of light, whether in the train or during an emergency. Bonus, use a red LED, to keep your dark adjusted vision good.
  • Mask: because it's a pandemic and this thing works.