I remember a meaningful encounter I had while standing in the baggage claim area of an airport. Waiting for my luggage, I observed a man and lady standing beside me doing the same. The man held a small, black bag as he vigorously talked to the attractive lady whom, judging by their conversation, he had just met on their flight. The baggage alert sound went off during their conversation causing us all to divert our attention to the luggage carousel. When I spotted my white suitcase come around, I placed my carry-on bag on the ground, threw my huge purse over my shoulder, and got down in a sturdy squat (my Momma always tells me to pick things up using my legs to avoid straining) in order to drag the obese luggage off the belt. The man who was chatting with the lady noticed my struggle and immediately stepped up to assist me. He pulled my suitcase off the belt, turned to me and jokingly said, “Girl, is there a body in here??” I smirked and began to give him a sassy response, but our encounter was interrupted by the lady he was talking to who was now struggling with her luggage. She hovered over the belt desperately trying to pull her heavy suitcase off as the man assisted her as well. After lifting two large suitcases, he caught his breath and said, “Ladies, unpack some of this shit next time! Ya'll pack too much! I just came back from out of the country, and all I had was this small bag!” I looked up at him like he had lost his mind. Didn’t he know I needed options when traveling? I need my entire bathroom plus “just in-case stuff” for the unexpected. Boy bye! He went on to say that all he packed for his trip were two pairs of pants, two shirts, a few toiletries, and he wore the shoes he currently had on the entire trip. The lady and I went into defense mode by saying that he was a man, and he didn’t need as much as we did. He cut us off and said that wasn’t a good excuse. He then said, “The less you pack, the less you need.” I thought about what he said, then I vowed to him that I would try the “pack light” method on my next trip.
Months after that trip, I went on another voyage taking just one small bag. In this bag, I packed a pair of jeans (in addition to the jeans I had on), three shirts, a hat, my toiletries, and a pair of shoes (in addition to the shoes I had on). I was nervous about having packed such a small bag, but I went with the plan and made it out just fine. I felt light with my one bag. I wasn’t stressed about what I would be wearing each day, and because I didn’t have a lot with me, I didn’t create a need for much.
I took my packing light experience and applied it to life. The more bags/burdens I carry, the more I will need, and as a result - the more stressed I’ll be. Imagine we’re going on a journey (aka life), and at every stop on this journey we pick something up and put it in our bag. While on this journey, we sometimes pick up things that aren’t for us (other people’s problems), but we place it in the bag anyway. Sooner or later our load gets heavier which makes the journey that much more difficult, and we began to drag. Now we're bitter because we've carried so much crap we didn't have to carry. Then our health goes down due to the physical and emotional strain caused by the unnecessary crap we've carried along the journey.
Some of us are still holding on to things that happened to us decades ago. Some of us can't' let go of pain caused by a loved one, a promotion we didn't get, a breakup, something someone said to us, etc. Then we take all of that baggage we've collected over the years and haul it with us everywhere we go - and then have the nerve to wonder why we continuously feel heavy.
I'm not sure what ya'll are going to do with the bags ya'll carry, but I'm going to continue to follow Mr. Airport man with the small, black bag's advice. I'm unpacking some of this shit.