Danecdotes: Think about what to really carry with you


I have a small leather tray on my nightstand.

A riveting introduction to my column, I know, but I find myself thinking about this tray more than normal lately.

The contents of this tray are my “Everyday Carry” items. These are the things I stuff in my pockets before heading out the door because I’ll probably need them at least once in a day.

It features obvious things like my wallet, watch and wedding ring, along with a pair of headphones to help get me through the workday when there are too many distractions, which may or may not include talkative co-workers. There are also a few “just in case” items like a handkerchief and a pocket knife - used incredibly rarely, but you never know when they may come in handy.

Once all of those things are in my pocket, I can head out the door and start my day. When I come home, I empty my pockets back into the tray.


The thing is, I don’t head out the door all that often anymore, now that I have been working from home. In fact, I barely have left my house in the past five or so months.

I need my wallet maybe twice per week for no more than an hour at a time. Headphones are used sparingly and the knife hasn’t been used outside of my garage in months.

I still wear the watch because it’s mechanical and will stop running if I don’t. I have to admit, it clashes a bit with the flannel pants I now wear most days, but having a watch on my wrist is oddly the only bit of what was once “normalcy” left in a workday for me.

Apart from that, all of these things that I carried every day no longer get carried. They will be carried on a daily basis again - hopefully sooner than later - but for now, this tray is where they sit.

The reason I think about it so much now is because it occurs to me that the things in this tray - though I sort of miss the normal days of lugging them around - are not all that vital.

The headphones, the knife, even the watch - they aren’t as important as I once thought they were. I thought I needed all of these things to get through my day, and now I will go for days without touching most of them.

And sure, my situation has changed, but I would argue most major changes show you what’s really important.

For example, I am healthy. So is my wife, so is my son and so is my extended family.


I have a seemingly stable job that can be done from any number of locations - lately, that location has been my own bedroom.

I have a roof over my head and food in my pantry, although I’m nervous to eat half of it because I know my son will ask for a lot of it as snacks and I don’t want to be the jerk that denied the toddler an Oreo because I had seven of them that day (don’t judge me) and now they’re gone.

So ultimately, the things in that tray are often useful, but that’s all they are: things.

If you haven’t yet, find out what’s truly important. I’ll bet my paycheck they aren’t material things.

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

Dan Determan - Danecdotes.jpg
Dan Determan, PineandLakes Echo Journal Writer

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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