On Baggage

I’m packing again.

In this fuchsia blue life of mine, there are times and phases when my wee grey & orange wheely bag is just constantly sitting in the spare room; toothbrush & clear plastic “liquids” bags ready to go… And right now I’m in one of those phases

Don’t get me wrong, I love travelling about – love visiting places, love working in new situations, love the motion-bubble I get myself into as I move from the Borders to Edinburgh through the airport or Waverly train station to some other destination. I’m oddly peaceful when in transit. If I have a pen & some paper, my phone with good music on it & something to read I’m pretty happy. FBHQ exists firmly in the office at the top of our house, but I can run stuff virtually for days without too much hassle.

So in theory, I could move with ease through the world… apart from this:

I just cannot seem to travel light. No matter how I configure my packing – no matter what system I put in place to try to lighten my load – I always end up with over packed bags. And they are heavy.

It confounds me.

I make great excuses. My size 8 feet mean I pack canoes rather than sandals. Hotel hairdryers typically couldn’t blow the seeds off a dandelion stem, so my own person wind-tunnel has to come with me. … you get the gist.

But what I noticed in London last week was how much this excess baggage slows me down. I didn’t go to a couple of places ( one of them being Tate Modern – I’m seeking Rothko & have a notion to go see the Damien Hirst Exhibition: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/damien-hirst ) because I was encumbered. Weighed down. Burdened. Hampered. Hindered. Impeded… once more I guess you get the gist…

I envy those who travel light. I’m a just-in-case-er. Things are just in my case on the off chance it might rain/hail/snow/ require me to wear a cocktail dress (I wish!) / need to facilitate a group of people without warning (using only flip pens & post it notes) / break a heel.

For an optimistic person, I pack with pessimism of Eeyore (can’t think of another famous pessimist right now..help me out here?). I worry about unseen dramas, about being rendered without full Mary Poppins status. I’m like perma-Scout : Be Prepared. In other words, I burden myself. Nice one.

So as I pack tonight. I’m aiming to step lightly out into the world.

Wish me luck. I’m so gonna need it…..

PS – thanks & apologies to Mack our Dog for stealing his toy donkey for “artistic purposes”. The donkey smells. Even I wouldn’t pack it.

5 thoughts on “On Baggage

  1. Your blog about ‘extra baggage has brought to mind some different thoughts for me. It reminds me of the journey I took between Wakefield and Cala Millor in Mallorca when I had to get everything I needed for a fortnight into two panniers attached to a bike that I would be pedalling! It is amazing when put under that kind of pressure what can be left at home 
    During that journey there were things required that none of the 5 of us had thought to take and those who provided what we needed where in fact complete strangers. It made me wonder if we are too well prepared and have all that we need with us on a journey could we be missing out on the opportunity of meeting a new friend or an angel of mercy? Sometimes these moments of connection although fleeting last a lifetime.
    These Samaritans appeared just at the right moment for us on our trip but there are other times when not having the right ‘equipment’ may result in us having to ask for help. And so an opportunity arises for someone else to use the skills/ gifts they have to help another. The results of this can be surprising and take a tack that we did not expect so how much more rewarding for all is that, than be able to sort it every time on our own in our own little way. Of course there are times when there is no one and it is down to us to deal with a situation without the right tools, however time and again we may be surprised by what we discover we are carrying with us that will fit the purpose.
    It has also made me reflect on the personal baggage we carry around with us and that prevents us from exploring this life to the full. In my case about 3 stone of extra baggage that literally weighs me down. I know that just in the case of what went in the panniers it is also my choice about what goes into my body – perhaps the time is now to really put that thought into action so when I head to Italy at the beginning of October I’ll be travelling light and ready to take on the adventure in its entirety.
    It is also our choice about what we carry with us in our minds. The Internal dialogue of past and future conversations; of what if’s and what if nots; the judgements and cynicism that fill our minds leaving no space for what is happening now, right now in this very moment. It may be very difficult to get rid of these thoughts altogether but perhaps with practice, there is time when we can leave them behind neatly packaged whilst we go off on our ‘holiday’ stepping lightly along the way, and when we return to them can we decide if they need to go back in to the suitcase of our mind or remain in the drawer for another day…

    • Rhona – you should think about blogging….I read this and find myself nodding -Yes, the baggage/ luggage thing is such a good metaphor for the way we move through the world…. and I STILL packed too much even after writing this and i STILL walked through Heathrow last night feeling I hd the weight of the world with me…. When will I learn?

  2. Wow! Julie thank you for the laugh out loud moments in your tale and Rhona for offering a perspective which is far reaching 🙂 I relate to this – particularly the hair dryer and wonder how I would square leaving it behind and then approaching new people with frizzy hair?

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