Many months ago, reader John directed me to re-read the Alice adventure Through the Looking Glass. John said there was a terrific example of a pack rat contained in the book, and I discovered it exactly as he said I would. In chapter eight of the tale “It’s My Own Invention,” Alice encounters the White Knight, a man with a nasty manifestation of Just-in Case syndrome.
The White Knight’s character description begins on page 122 of the book — a book you can access for free on Google Books, since the book is in the public domain. An example of his pack-rat ways:
“You see,” [the White Knight] went on after a pause, “it’s as well to be provided for everything. That’s the reason the horse has all those anklets round his feet.”
“But what are they for?” Alice asked in a tone of great curiosity.
“To guard against the bites of sharks,” the Knight replied. “It’s an invention of my own. And now help me on. I’ll go with you to the end of the wood — What’s that dish for?”
“It’s meant for plum-cake,” said Alice.
“We’d better take it with us,” the Knight said. “It’ll come in handy if we find any plum-cake. Help me to get it into this bag.”
This took a long time to manage, though Alice held the bag open very carefully, because the Knight was so very awkward in putting in the dish; the first two or three times that he tried he fell in himself instead. “It’s rather a tight fit, you see,” he said, as they got it in at last; “there are so many candlesticks in the bag.” And he hung it to the saddle, which was already loaded with bunches of carrots, and fire-irons, and many other things.
The White Knight has “so many things hung round the horse” that he falls off the horse every few feet. Most every time he falls from the horse he hits his head on the ground. His clutter and irrational collection of Just-in Case items keeps him from living the life he desires (certainly one where he is an amazing horse rider).
Are you keeping things you don’t need, like the White Knight, just in case you might one day need them? You probably aren’t falling or hitting your head because of these items, but is storing them causing problems in other ways? Are you wasting money on a self-storage unit? Are you sacrificing storage space in your home or office that could be used in other ways for purposes you value more? Would letting some of these items go improve the quality of your space? Only you know if you would see the White Knight if you looked in a mirror.