The Off Handed Comment, Baggage, and Traveling Light

Not even an aside, just a part of a sentence, a prepositional phrase, a fragment of a sentence that stings.  You try to brush it off, like a cobweb you innocently walked into.  That stings too–the fact that you walked into it.
The cobweb sticks to your face and makes you sputter, indignantly.
It clings, because these sorts of communications often involve old patterns and ancient hurts.  We know the speaker, and we know, or think we do, exactly what was insinuated. We have been here before.

I know my mother thinks my life is messy.  Baggage is a descriptive adjective used our conversations. And I sputter.  And it stings because I worry it might be true.  Baggage isn’t even a compliment when it comes to travel.  Nowadays people travel light.  You are an amateur if you
have checked luggage and a seasoned professional if you can go for 3 weeks with a small carry-on and a change of underwear. Amateurs languish in long lines with many suitcases; professionals whip through the airports, traveling light and whistling.


I could believe that I have too much baggage to be acceptable in polite society—brokenness, demands, responsibilities, hurts, commitments–except that I have talked to you people.  I have been open and real and told you about my messes and you have returned the trust and told me about yours.  Like the beautiful  woman who normally looks like she has it all together except that she is shopping in Costco with her 3 small monsters, I mean children, I found out that we all have baggage and we don’t have it all together.  The only people who look like they don’t have baggage are those who have it under lock and key, constantly nipped at by worry that you might find out they aren’t perfect.

So, I choose to look at the comment differently.  Maybe, my baggage, so to speak, is part of me and what has made me think, and grow, and learn compassion.
Let me challenge conventional wisdom here for a second.

What if traveling light means superficiality?

What if traveling without baggage means you tossed off a lesson without learning from it?
What if no baggage means you are traveling so fast, you don’t even see the wounded, fallen, or slightly rejected?
What if you can’t be real without a little luggage?


  1. Using the metaphor that life is a trip, then I want it to be very long and very interesting and memorable, and how am I supposed to know what I will want to wear until I need to wear it? The lady next to me in the airport has no luggage, but her carry-on “purse” is the size of a Pullman car. No luggage? Maybe denial makes it so. And let’s look to see what luggage I have. Ok, a spare book, energy bar, hair dryer (the one in the hotel room could be broken), enough unmentionables and outfits so I can change now and them, toothpaste, heels in case I have a chance to dress up, band-aids in case I wear the heels (ouch), some aspirin in case I chicken out and don’t wear the heels, cell phone, pencil and paper–and room to add more baggage. Well fine. The guy who whizzes through the airport with his boxers in his briefcase is the one who is going to come whining because he needs some aspirin. The one who only has her carryon is going to ask for band-aids. And on my trip, I’ll pick up a little souvenir here, one there. And maybe I get a cold or Montezuma’s Revenge as I travel, but look, I have aspirin, TheraFlu, Lomatil, so I get over it and go on. Eventually I get dirty clothes. Eventually I can’t fit any more things in my suitcase. Eventually it is time to go home. When St. Peter lets me in the gate, I won’t need the baggage. So tell me, in the meantime, what’s so bad about baggage? Who wouldn’t have some?

  2. Excellent!!!!!
    Besides that, you are one of the most amazing women I have ever had the privilege to know!

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