The Lesson of the Brown Bag

So I’m circling back and refocusing myself in regards to this site. You’ll see more of that later. But for now, I’ve started ruminating on the very basics: the title. While sometimes (ok, often) I choose titles, handles, emails addresses, etc based on what’s still available, this title was chosen rather specifically. To fully understand what it means to me, let’s start at the beginning and go back… *cue fast wind chime music* to my childhood.

Lunch time at School

Growing up we weren’t rich. We never classified ourselves as poor, but we were always what I’ve come to call “thrifty.” Money didn’t get thrown at things that weren’t needed, because apparently money doesn’t grow on trees (unless you own an orchard, I guess). I went to school with a plain brown paper bag filled with random foods found in the cupboard to feed me during the day. Interesting side note, I was homeschooled. Laugh all you want, but I went to the local school sometimes for fun, so don’t start assuming I was just walking around my living room with my school lunch.

Now, this was the era of the incredibly cool lunch boxes and bags. All my friends and mortal enemies had them. It was a majestic display of colors and characters when lunches were pulled out and placed on the table. My brown paper bag and I were often put to shame in comparison, and wished we could just be back home eating out of the fridge. But my few seconds of hesitation were outweighed by the hunger growling in my stomach, and my lunch was pulled out for inspection. Then after some minutes of excited comparison of food products among friends, we feasted.

And as painfully cliche as this sounds, I quickly learned that my lunch was just as good as everyone else’s, regardless of what was used to bring it there. This may seem like the simplest of lessons, but to a 10-year-old girl it felt pretty huge at the time. My simple, crinkly, brown paper bag got the job done. And as soon as we were done eating and ran off to play, we no longer cared about what transportation device was used for our daily nutrition.

It felt like a floodgates had opened, and this new lesson changed the way I saw everything. Our car was a little rusted and often dusty, but it got us to school and back. It did the same job as the shiny, maroon suburban that my classmate’s family drove. I may not have the most expensive brand of coat in the winter, but my Goodwill coat kept me just as warm as my delicately wrapped friends. And surprisingly enough, I was just as happy as the rest of them. I didn’t lose sleep worrying about whether Nikes or Adidas was the brand of the year, or when I would be allowed to start wearing makeup. I discovered this amazing freedom that I never wanted to lose. Granted, the shackles of those fancy lunch boxes still sneak up on my sometimes (usually instigated by a quick click over to, but a quick peek inside the bag reminds me that the goodies inside remain the same.

So that’s one reason I’m here, to keep myself (and you, if you’re coming along for the adventure!) focused on what’s inside by simplifying the packaging.

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