(This Blog originally appeared on my other website; www.secs.ie)
We are in the middle of the holiday season. Thoughts of so many people turn to ‘where will we go?’, ‘how long will we stay?’ and ‘what will we bring?’. Even in the current economic climate, people are traveling for holidays; some to foreign or sunnier climes, others are opting for ‘stay-cations’ and either using their homes as a base, or finding a holiday location within their own country. No matter where people go, there is one challenge that they all must face; what to pack. Whether traveling abroad, staying locally, or just heading off on a day trip, there is the question; what should I bring along with me?
There are so many things to be considered when packing for a journey; ‘Where am I going?’, ‘What do I need to bring?’, ‘What are the baggage allowances?’, etc. We all know of people who pack so much that even a simple day trip looks more like a military mobilisation. We also know of people who take a matter of minutes to pack and bring little more than a small holdall. With the current restrictions (and additional costs) on the amount of baggage that we carry when we travel, primarily on air travel, we spend much time selecting what to bring, weighing the bag, reviewing what we have packed and lightening the load so that we meet the required limits. Even after we go through this exercise, we go on our trip and return without ever using many of the items we packed as essentials.
This got me thinking; we spent so much time agonising over what we should pack to take on a short trip, what about giving some consideration to what we need to bring on our ultimate trip, our journey through life?
It is ironic that we refer to our life experiences and emotional states as ‘baggage.’ Have you ever heard someone say: “that person carries a lot of personal baggage with them”? The analogy is so close to the real use of the term, that it is scary.
We spend our lives gathering stuff. In practical terms we gather clothes, equipment and other ‘things’. We also gather things in our emotional lives. We collect experiences, feelings, emotions, thoughts and memories. As we continue our journey through life we must decide what experiences, feelings, emotions, thoughts and memories we should bring with us for a specific situation that we encounter. This does not mean that we dump all the other emotions, we must just select those that are most suitable for the current situation. This is the same as the situation we face when we are taking a trip; we must decide what clothes, and other things we need to bring and what we must leave at home.
When we ‘pack light’ for a trip we notice how much easier our trip becomes. There are less bags to be dragging around, it is easier to check in, there are less delays when it comes to collecting our bags on the other side (particularly if we manage to travel using carryon baggage only) and what is more important, we feel more relaxed. So transfer this feeling to our emotional lives and see what happens.
If we focus on only bringing those experiences, emotions and memories that will be of the greatest benefit to a given situation with us, what will happen? To begin with, it will be easier for us to deal with decisions that have to be made. We don’t have to root through all of our baggage to find what we need to deal with the situation. Our heads feel clearer, more focused and, I will bet, we also feel much more relaxed.
Just look at the speed with which we will be able to deal with issues if we have packed light for our journey. In more practical environments, lighter baggage can travel by air, which is currently probably the fastest way to move our baggage around the world, whereas bulkier and heavier baggage travels by road, rail and/or sea all of which are much slower.
So do you want to carry all your personal and emotional ‘baggage’ with you and be forced to take the slower route through life, or would you like to be able to select which ‘stuff’ you really need to bring and leave the rest for when you need it. Imagine if every one of your past experiences, memories, etc, weighed 1 Kilogram and you had to pack them all in a suitcase (or suitcases). What would the total weight of your baggage be? Would you have to pay a charge for excess or would you need to hire a container to ship them for you?
Now imagine that you can only pack the experiences, memories, etc., to bring on today’s particular journey and all the rest must stay at home. Just how much lighter would you be. Tomorrow, you will need to pack for another ‘journey’ and that might require different baggage, but the allowances are always the same; Carryon luggage only.
We should all learn to only carry what we need for the specific journey we are on; either for a regular trip or for our daily journey in life. So how can we do this? The answer is simple; Imagine that you have a small carryon suitcase and everything that you can bring on today’s journey must fit into it. Next focus on what you need to do today and decide what experiences, emotions, feelings, memories, etc., you will need to help you deal with what you come across today. For each ‘item’ you select, ask yourself “how, specifically, will this help me today?” If you can answer this question with good reason, then ‘pack’ that item in your case, however, if you can’t answer the question, then put that item back in the press and select something else. Remember, you are not dumping the items that you don’t select, you are just picking the specific things that will help you today. Tomorrow you will pack a new bag for tomorrow’s journey.
Give it a try, just take a look at the emotional baggage that you carry with you every day and ask yourself, “how is this helping me?” Remember, the more you carry, the more it will slow you down. You will still get to where you want to go, but you may be so overloaded that you have to travel by surface rather than by air. Which do you want to do?