Although it sounds like a series of self-help books (The Thirty-Nine Steps to Financial Freedom, The Thirty Nine Steps to a Better Body) The Thirty-Nine Steps is actually an adventure-thriller written in 1915 by John Buchan.
The story is about, Richard Hannay, an innocent man framed for murder by an anarchist organisation hell-bent on assassinating a European leader and instigating a war.
Film adaptations of the novel (of which there have been many) veer from the source material, avoid the more antiquated cultural stereotypes and focus on the man-on-the-run-caught-up-in-a-shadowy-conspiracy plotline.
But in doing so they also skip what I think is the most thought provoking part of the book. At least for me anyway.
Shortly after finding a houseguest murdered in his flat, the book’s protagonist, Richard Hannay, flees London for the Scottish countryside, a place where (he believes) he can more easily evade and outwit his pursuers.
However, before he leaves, he does a little light packing:
I hunted out a well-used tweed suit, a pair of strong nailed boots, and a flannel shirt with a collar. Into my pockets I stuffed a spare shirt, a cloth cap, some handkerchiefs and a tooth-brush.John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps, p. 22.
I dislike packing.
I never seem to get it right.
Once I think I’ve packed everything I need for a trip, my mind proceeds to run wild. This results in me realising that, should I be invited to high tea with a foreign dignitary or a gangland funeral during my two day stay in Melbourne, I have nothing to wear.
Suddenly, my modest carry on is replaced by a wheeled behemoth stuffed with impractical clothing choices and way too many pairs of shoes.
98% of which will remain unworn during the trip.
Therefore, as someone who spends the hours before a journey packing, unpacking and re-packing my bag, the idea of leaving with only a few essentials stuffed in my pockets sounds like a dream.
Or #packinggoals as the kids might say.
Of course, the hard part of this new-found liberation from luggage will be deciding on exactly what those “essentials” are.
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