April 21, 2005
Where Missing Socks Go
The Pareto Principle, or the 80-20 Rule, states that "for many phenomena 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes." When applied to your wardrobe, you spend 80% of your time wearing 20% of your closet. Understanding the Principle can allow you beat it, leading to an efficient and utopian existence.
There are generally two types of backpackers: those who travel from city to city with their luggage on their back, and those who hike from mountaintop to mountaintop with their luggage on their back. All backpackers quickly learn to beat the 80-20 Rule when packing clothes for the road; if you need a tougher workout, you can pick up rocks along the way. It's virtually impossible to underpack.
I'd rather pick up rocks and eat them than do laundry, so I packed more socks in my bag than anything else. That's seven pairs of socks -- excessive for backpacking but modest for a sock collection. Already, somehow, I am missing one sock.
Don't waste your precious backpacking time asking rhetorical and trite questions such as who am I? Who are we? Why are we? You have the rest of your life to convince yourself that you might elicit an answer. Instead, enjoy your travel time by observing your surroundings and asking practical questions such as why am I carrying rocks? Why am I tempted to eat them? Where do missing socks go?