Is it time to travel light through life?
Last year, when we travelled to Canada to live for twelve months with our two adopted kids in tow, you can imagine we carried lots of baggage. Life is seldom a straightforward journey, especially as far as infertility and adoption are concerned. And we carried lots of luggage too!
Our luggage consisted of three large suitcases, one medium/large suitcase, a big duffel bag and a baby car seat and pram, both loaded with piles of stuff and bubble wrapped for maximum weight.
Then there were our carry-ons!
We smiled effusively at the airline staff, coaxing our cute little kids to wield their not inconsiderable charms, so that it didn’t matter that most of our bags were too heavy. Somehow we must have thought we’d need everything we packed.
Why carry so much baggage?
I carried physical baggage and emotional stuff too. I really didn’t leave Canada to return to Australia with any less physical baggage (we actually accumulated more stuff in total, despite giving lots away, and unfortunately I put on a few kilos). It got me thinking whether I’d left any lighter than I’d arrived – emotionally and spiritually that is.
Travel gives us the chance to be light, to be free – if we just take it. Travelling light is a virtue – stripping life back to its bare experiences, the scenery you enjoy, the people you meet, the tastes, the smells, the sights, the sounds. Unless of course you happen to be heading to New York, Paris or Hong Kong for a shopping trip! I’ve been lucky enough to have been to all three places, and I brought back much more in terms of memories than I did material possessions. Hong Kong was only a stop-over, and an unexpected one at that (that’s a whole other story). I did manage to purchase my precious (if not expensive) yin-yang jewellery there, reminding me of the balance I’m striving for. Paris was much more about romance and history on a European holiday with my husband, a year into marriage, when life was simple and we didn’t need mementos to prove we’d been somewhere, we just had to remember the sex (now we have to remember when we last had sex)!
Amazingly, I got to visit New York twice last year – first with my Mum and sister and then with my husband and kids (you can guess which trip involved more shopping). My modest haul from my Big Apple sojourns amounted to two pairs of shoes, a trench coat, some exercise gear, a discount designer hoodie, cashmere sweater, a couple of t-shirts and a cheap silver bangle, along with obligatory souvenirs and gifts. I associate my purchases with the places we visited, the fond memories they bring to mind (and with the future bragging rights for the shoes and coat ‘just something I picked up in New York’). These things will always be a little bit special. Of course had I purchased nothing, photographed nothing, I’d still have special memories.
Offload to make room for change
I arrived in Canada with far too many clothes, and wore less than a third of them. I hadn’t wanted to leave things behind, not realising that I needed to, in order to make room for change. I arrived in Canada carrying guilt and pain, and realised I didn’t want to return home with them. We tried to teach our kids (or they taught us) that you don’t need many toys to have fun. I tried not to buy clothes, but couldn’t resist in New York or San Francisco (I am female). Of course we needed new clothes for the kids and warm things for all of us, and I wanted things to remind me of a special time in our lives. I tried to be both brutal and generous in deciding what we’d take back, what we’d give away and what we’d give to others back home (we filled a whole suitcase with gifts). And I was both brutal and generous with myself as I tried to cull the baggage that no longer served me, holding on to just that little bit I still couldn’t bear to part with. I’m working on it!
I left Canada lighter, thanks to the special experiences of our travels, new friendships and simply being open to change, to offloading baggage. Our luggage tipped the scales of course (thank you Air Canada/Qantas for not charging excess), but for the most part we had brought only the important things home. Ourselves, our memories and the changes we had made within ourselves. Now I just have to face the bathroom scales and lose that excess baggage!
What baggage are you carrying that you’d like to offload? Are there things, emotions, people that you held onto long after they served you? And I’d love to hear stories of travelling light.