Backpack Project Is Underway

It’s In The Backpack

My backpack project started just the other day. What is a backpack project? Let me tell you.

As a baby boomer I did not carry a backpack to school when I was young. Instead we carried book bags. These were child-like versions of briefcases. You had to have one. In it you always had your books, a Big Chief tablet, a number 2 pencil and crayons. That was about it. If it got too full, mom cleaned it out. It had a strap that you could sling over your shoulder or if you were creative enough, use it to fashion a type of backpack. But it was clearly not a backpack.

I suspect one reason the backpack was not in vogue is that the dads of the era had just returned from the war and probably never wanted to see a backpack again as long as they lived.

Then sometime in the years since then, while I was not watching, the backpack made a comeback. Every school child carried a one to school. I can see the wisdom in it. They were easy to pack, could hold a lot and you could even put your lunch in the backpack. I had to carry a metal lunch box with the image of a Superhero on the outside if I wanted to take my lunch to school.

All of that is perfectly understandable to me. Why then do adults carry a backpack so often now? I have decided to find out. Thus, “The Backpack Project.”

Why do I care? Well, I have a theory. I believe that adults started carrying backpacks when we started lugging our laptops around. I know it was always inconvenient to carry that briefcase-type carrier with my laptop as well as another briefcase. But now with the advent of the small tablets like the iPad, why is the backpack still so prevalent? I see people of all ages carrying them. I have even taken to using one so I can try and understand it better.

I have decided to start asking people what is in their backpack, why they carry one, can they tell me without looking everything that is in it, and will they empty it in front of me?

I have begun to believe that there is more to the phenomenon of carrying a backpack than just the ease of transporting things that are necessary to make it through the day. In some ways, I suspect, the backpack is a metaphor for life. Some things are there because we need them. Some things are there because we forget to take them out and somethings are there because we don’t know how to get rid of them.

I made my first attempt to invade somebody’s backpack space just a few days ago. In the next post I will tell you all about that. Tomorrow I am going to start asking random people I encounter to help me with the backpack project. I will try to update my progress right here each week.

This is the type of blog post that really begs for your comments. Please don’t let me down. I am counting on your input to help shed some light on this very important issue in our culture and society. (If you miss the sarcasm in that statement, perhaps this is  not the right blog for you)

What’s in your backpack?