Pulling Your Feet Up

So one of the things I’m planning to do in Japan, mostly on trains, is proofread some of the writing I’ve done in the past year. I have a good stack of stories that need editing and proofing before they can be sent out, and it’s the kind of thing I’m more likely to do when I don’t have a PC with me. Since I’m leaving my laptop at home this trip — carrying it about for three weeks feels just ever so slightly too cumbersome — I will be bringing a portable hard drive (with my most recently forked writing folder archive), so of course, if I get really desperate to do some writing, I can always wander into a PC-cafe and work off that.

But I also have a stack of printouts I long ago decided to bring with me, after not having gotten around to them for weeks on end. There are five pieces there, two of them quite long and three of them mid-length. Heaven knows I don’t want to be carrying them around throughout the whole next three weeks, butposting them to myself is a good solution.

Here’s the crazy thing. I was actually thinking of going and printing more manuscripts so that I would “have them.” Never mind that the MP3 player (and backup) and the hard drive I’m bringing will be so crammed with entertainment media that I would be surprised if I get through it all in the next year, let alone the next three weeks — but I was going to print out more stories just to ensure I wouldn’t get caught without something to edit, should the mood strike me!

This tells you a lot about the kind of person I’ve been all my life. When most people bring one book along on a one-day road trip, I bring two, just because I’m usually far enough into the first to worry about what I’ll do if I don’t have the second on hand. It’s not a case of backups — though I believe in those, and will be bringing a spare, small digicam and a spare MP3 player with me to Japan — but rather about stream interruption. While I’m able to withstand being offline for a good period of time — a week, if I really embrace it — I am unable to handle not having a book on hand.

But the silly thing is: I definitely have enough manuscripts for the first trip — I’ll probably edit a novella on my way up to Sapporo — and after that, I can always print things out as I need them. I mean, I have the files backed up in a few different places as it is: on several thumb drives as well as on my portable hard disc.

What was I thinking?

Well, actually, that’s the thing. I wasn’t thinking badly, I was thinking archaically. Were I going somewhere where I might not find a fully-equipped print-shop, like, say, along the Trans-Siberian Railway, then my logic would make perfect sense. But carrying my stuff in multiple media when I don’t need to, it’s just crazy. It’d be like bringing all my CDs along on a 3-week trip just in case my MP3 player malfunctions.

Someone might say that it’s no so much I was thinking archaically as just out-of-context, but the thing is, the context I was thinking in was an outdated one, and now, having caught onto this fact, I feel like I’ve just pulled my feet up as the ski lift passes over a hump — I’ve just figured out I don’t need to keep my feet on the ground, as long as the machine is working.

The thing that scares me, though, is the fact that I’ve seen people miss this kind of simple, obvious logic before. Smart people. Savvy people. They get older, they get trapped in their contexts, and suddenly they just find themselves unable to think in any other. Not everyone does, but many do.

It brings the question, “How many more times will you figure out that you can pull your feet up?” Because it’s not always about convenience, is it? Sometimes, pulling your feet up is all the difference between getting up the mountain one more time, or ending up with a broken leg at the bottom of the slope.

(Well, maybe not so dramatic is that, but since I’ve only been on one ski lift in my life, I’m using an eminently dangerous metaphor.)

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