With baggage… excess baggage… without baggage… lost baggage… emotional baggage… are things that this week’s prompt brings to mind. As I travel, each time I take with me less and less baggage. Is it because I have dropped some of the emotional baggage? Or is it because I pack more efficiently and don’t need to cart all my baggage around? And why do Americans have more baggage allotment than any other country? Until last autumn, traveling to and from the States, people were allowed two-70# bags. Now, this is down to two-50# bags. Most other countries still allow only one 44# bag. Is this because of American cultural baggage? Or do Americans just have a lot, so they need to carry everything with them? I know that I carry my country with me as I travel, and I also hope that I carry parts of the different countries where I have traveled and lived, the best parts of these countries and what I learned there. That is the pleasure in the baggage. And by mixing the best of many different cultures, I now (hopefully) no longer show only American cultural baggage, but the nature of many different cultures mixed.
Henry David Thoreau said, “Even the elephant carries but a small trunk on his journeys. The perfection of traveling is to travel without baggage”. And, you can’t take it with you. Have you ever seen a luggage rack on a hearse? The Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang (ruled 221-207 BC), packed his baggage and tried to take it with him on his journey, to defend him in the afterlife. He packed all his armies, chariots and horses, and they were buried with him. Not the actual people, but terracotta replicas. This is an amazing archeological find, near Xi'An, and if you ever have a chance to see them, GO!
I am in health care. While trained as a physiotherapist (“physical therapist” to Americans), I specialize in manual therapy, physically and energetically helping people taking tensions off so that they can heal themselves. As I treat my clients, I try to come to them without baggage – no preconceived notions about what may be wrong with them. I try to come to them with an empty slate, an open mind, and hands without bias or baggage. My own baggage is left outside the door. And then, through the time of treatment, I help them to remove their excess baggage from over the years… the bicycle accident at age 7, the sprained ankle at age 16, the motorcycle accident at age 24, etc., etc. It is like peeling the layers of an onion: when one layer is gone, others show up. As I am able to help them remove their layers of physical and emotional baggage, my clients are able to adapt better to their surroundings, and they walk out lighter and freer, with more mobility and fewer restrictions, than when they entered. What happens to that excess baggage that they deposited in my clinic room? Maybe the cranes carry away this heavy mystical baggage? Or maybe it is because I pray for each of my clients, believing that God takes this baggage and carries it Himself?
At one time, I carried a lot of baggage. Through a lot physical, spiritual, and emotional work, I carry a lot less baggage now than I used to. As I sort through my belongings, deciding what to keep, what to give away and what to toss, I think of my new goal: My goal in life now is to go through life with just baggage enough.