Ten years ago, when I studied creative writing, I got the task to write a story without using any word that would start with the letter “K” (in the Swedish language, this is a more commonly used letter than in English). By following this rule, I had to solve my sentence structure in a more creative way than I had otherwise done.
With this approach completely new ideas were born that would otherwise not have come to me. I realized that in all the creative contexts the same thing could be done. That is: One could put rules/limitations in the process of creating to increase the ability to see new options. This is such a rule:
The hunt for grams
It was my sister’s boyfriend Jonas who introduced the term “Gram hunter”. When he did I had already started the hunt. The concept is related to hiking and describes the pursuit of carrying equipment that would be as lightweight as possible but still fully functional and comfortable. I think my fascination with “the ultralight life” to some extent started with this hunt.
Chasing grams is an exceptional rule when selecting equipment, not only in the context of hiking but also in life at large. Nowadays, I almost always examine the weight (and size) of everything I buy. It’s nice to not own much. But it is also nice to own light and small things.
The other day my attention had come to two things that I had been carrying with me on my recent hikes: a small camping dish brush (about 22.5 grams) and a traditional cup for beverage/food (about 57.5 grams). I asked myself what was essential with these two things. What characteristics did I need in them?
I realized that I didn’t need anything as big as the cup. And I also realized that the dish brush was way too big for what I used it for. I started experimenting and tried new thoughts. My goal was to scale down on these things to the lowest possible weight, but still remain as satisfied with their function.
For a few days I chased grams in Facebook groups discussions, by window-shopping in gadget shops and through extensive reading in forums for lightweight hiking. The wash brush gave me no hassle. I cut a sponge (4 grams) and that was all there was to that. But for the beverage vessel, I chased a bit longer. I found wooden cups from Japan, lightweight empty cans from the US, cut bamboo from Southeast Asia, cups in Nasa-high-tech materials.
Eventually I found a local hero, Fold-A-cup from Swedish Wildo. This was the winner. The humble little hiking cup fulfilled all my possible wishes: handle for hot drinks, a light insulating ability, durability, spaciousness (2.5 dl) and everything fitting into the pleasing weight of 25 grams.
Many who read this do not see the point of what was accomplished here. But those who understand the deeper meaning they would note that I reduced the weight in this example by about 65%. If I manage to do the same thing with all hiking equipment, I can reduce 20000 grams to 7000 or 15000 grams to 5250. A person who has experience in trekking understands that a bag of 5250 grams is like not carrying anything at all.
That kind of trekking is a playful delight. An uninterrupted enjoyment.
And, by the way, not a single word of this text began with the letter “K”.