Long ago, in my teen years, I was a Boy Scout. I advanced through the ranks and became an Eagle Scout just before my eighteenth birthday. I learned many things in scouting, and one of the things that I have always carried with me is the Scout Motto: Be Prepared.
I used “Be Prepared” to justify many of my possessions. I wanted to be able to handle any situation that life may send my way. To do that, I might need a pocket knife, a ball of string, and maybe some duct tape. Or maybe I might need a bucket of miscellaneous nuts and bolts. Or perhaps I may need and old pair of glasses in case my new ones broke. And maybe I should hang onto my old magazines in case I need to refer back to an article about a 1986 Ford Mustang.
Here’s the thing… the scout motto of Be Prepared isn’t about having the stuff you might need. It’s actually about being mentally and physically prepared. According to Robert Baden-Powell, the creator of the Boy Scouts and the writer of the motto,
The meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.
It’s not about stuff at all. In fact, you might even say that having excess stuff might hamper your ability to be prepared. Consider my bucket of nuts and bolts. Any time I needed one, I would spend a good 15 minutes searching through it, only to realize that I didn’t have what I needed and had to make a trip to the home improvement store anyway. In order to “Be Prepared” I would have to warehouse a nut and bolt in every size I may ever need. It would be much better to “Be Prepared” by knowing exactly where I can go to purchase the exact nut and bolt I need.
Same goes for carrying excess stuff. Perhaps a purse, backpack, or briefcase isn’t the best place to keep all the random stuff you might need. Perhaps by packing light, you might be better able to handle the unexpected. With a small, light weight purse, backpack or briefcase, you may more easily sprint from danger should the need arise. That example may be a stretch, but you get the idea. Sometimes you are better served by having less and knowing where you can get the things you need.