There’s a Price for Extra Baggage

When I write an article or work on a manuscript, I back it up on a USB thumb drive — a tiny data storage device. The clear housing allows me to see the inner-workings. To me it looks like an aerial view of a micro-sized warehouse with a maze of corridors, each one leading to a compartment that holds data, music, pictures, video, or software.

© 2013 Laurie Buchanan

Some Things are Definitely Worth Remembering
The information I put on my thumb drive is important enough to me that I transport it on a lanyard, much like a referee wears a whistle. I carry it with me for safekeeping until I have the opportunity to make a positive contribution — submit it for publication.

Some Things are Best Forgotten
Many of us carry memories with us that don’t contribute to our wellbeing. In fact they’re debilitating. Unlike a tiny thumb drive, they take up a vast amount of space in containers known as baggage — emotional baggage. And while we can’t actually see them, we definitely feel their weight. And the longer we carry them, the heavier they get.

© 2013 Laurie Buchanan

Let go or be dragged.” — Zen proverb

Some people overpack for trips. Are you overpacked for life?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

Discovering the Seven Selves     Life Harmony

© 2013 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

90 thoughts on “There’s a Price for Extra Baggage

  1. Hi Laurie:
    I am working on getting rid of any extra baggage. Both at home and at work I am minimizing as much as possible and also letting go and accepting challenges and opportunities as they come. Anything negative that might try to attach itself is flowing right through me. It helps me to stay organized and lets all of the good chi flow. I have “unpacked” and continue to do so while I look for anything that might be still hanging out there that I can’t quite see with the physical eye. This girl is dragging no more by just living with just enough in my suitcase and manifesting all of the positives. Happy day!

  2. Hmm Let me see what got in here? I have this and this, oh an what about this when I was…

    so true each word, Let go, let God so the saying goes. Forgive and forget, I believe it is all a daily practice !

  3. Whenever emotional baggage is discussed the lyrics of the U2 song, Walk On, come to mind: “The only baggage you can bring is all that you can’t leave behind.” I’m pretty lightly packed at this point in my life, though it did take years to sort out what was worth remembering and what was best forgotten. Great post!

    • Barbara R. – It takes a while to figure out what NOT to claim; what to walk away from; what to leave spinning on the baggage carousel as we step outside the airport and get down to the actual business of enjoying the journey 🙂

  4. I love your description of the thumb drive, being like a warehouse. It really does look like that. Such true words, though, in terms of letting the bad past experiences drag you down and prevent you from moving forward. May you always move forward with lightness.

  5. Excellent.. Totally agree not to carry baggage that not longer serves us… go out into the world and buy some new !! And love the USB

  6. oh the baggage…and the draggage….
    If only we could work out a way to get all the negative data we hold onto a thumb drive then toss it in a big hole 😉 Actually, EMDR has been a godsend to that end w/out the gizmo.

  7. My extra baggage tends to roll back into my life right as I am contemplating sleep. Put down the book, turn off the light, close my eyes, and Wham! The steamer trunk of things best left at the airport plunks into my tired mind, full of sharp corners and no way to pick it up and heave it out. Even though I have several relaxation techniques to call on, I think I’ll try down-loading it into a USB port thumb drive and chunking it into trash on my way out. That’s for a great post!

  8. I am getting rid of “stuff” in my house as it is a manifestation of all the issues I am dragging around in my life…. how many rubber bands and plastic forks do I really need? And how many grudges and excuses do they represent?

    • RMW – Ohhhhhh, how I love your comment, “…it is a manifestation of all the issues I am dragging around in my life.” To my way of thinking, like yours (and great minds think alike), there is a distinct correlation!

  9. I moved from Manitoba to BC with 14 boxes. These 14 boxes contained everything I valued in the world (tangible). Now…now I have way more than 14 boxes. I find it very hard to release things.
    There are so many reasons…
    I may need that–one day.
    Someone I loved gave that to me. If give that item away, I’ll lose the memories.
    I have a box outside my bedroom door. Slowly I’m working to fill it so that I can give the items away. So far I’ve given at least four full boxes away. But it is, still, so hard to change my ways.

    • Leanne – But you’re making forward progress, and that’s what counts! You know the old adage:

      How do you eat an elephant?
      One bite at a time…

      Everyone’s different so I’m not sure if this would work for you, or not. Have you ever considered:
      1. photographing the items you can’t seem to part with for sentimental reasons.
      2. donating said items.
      3. simply enjoy the photographs

  10. Gosh, what a good post, Laurie. So many times we do carry around so much more baggage than needed. Have been emptying and emptying and emptying for decades but still some extra baggage keeps appearing. I suppose it will until it’s been completely seen through. (Have actually had packing nightmares several times over the years. The airplane is due to take off and I haven’t started packing. Or can’t decide what to take.)

  11. Great post and question Laurie. My packing for life seems to get lighter with each month of each year. Memories seem to slip away with no emotional hooks to keep them anchored in my everyday. For the most part this is a good thing. But sometimes I must retrieve a treasure using a photograph or a note scribbled from that time. Living as we do with few reasons to reminisce with visitors, this seems to be partly the reason for the lightness of life’s baggage. But the other reason is a deliberate focus on each moment of each day and the gifts it has to offer. In this practice, there is little room for the past to anchor its weight and be drug into the present or hefted into the future. All the best of today to you Laurie and our lightness of being is I know your own way in the world.

    • Terrill – “…with no emotional hooks to keep them anchored in my everyday.” And “…deliberate focus on each moment of each day and the gifts it has to offer.”

      I think you just described BLISS! Thank you for sharing the gift of your perspective.

    • Heather – In my experience, the bigger the container (purse, briefcase, suitcase, tote, etc), the more a person tends to tuck into it. I like your idea of a streamlined (small and manageable) backpack that can only hold so much — the essentials.

      Thank you for visiting Speaking from the Heart today and leaving a comment.

  12. this post is a gift Laurie Thank you for sharing
    Yes, they do become a drag.
    I have one event in my life that I can not let go of…and it makes me cry…I can not forgive myself
    I was a camp counselor for kids who all had special needs. We took the campers to the ZOO one summer afternoon and I was assigned to bring one 10 year old gal ( who could not talk) back to the bus and she would not leave the sea otter display window – the counselor already with her was treating her in a way that a temper tantrum was soon to explode. I ran over and put my arms around the child in a hug and then move slowing around her body until I was between her and the glass – blocking her view – she broke into a huge smile and then I began moving her body away from the otters….I began walking away too soon and before I had completely released one side of her body and I tripped on a small curb I did not see…down we both went onto the concrete sidewalk – the child had a scraped hand…I had a black eye forming and a fully scraped arm and elbow – and then all these people were on me yelling at me for hurting a child and trying to control her and how abusive I was….the camp director came and was very upset with me – and for making a scene and drawing attention to the special needs kids….it was a disaster on the bus back to camp….it is now 42 years later and the memory comes back to me and makes me cry and feel it so intensely – I wish i could put this on a thumb drive…lets create an emotional thumb drive and lighten people’s baggage!

    • Patricia – I appreciate that you shared that experience here. Please consider typing the details of the incident in the sacred space of Speaking from the Heart, the equivalent of having stored it on a thumb drive. I’ll keep it for you now.

    • You have a very beautiful heart, Patricia! I hope you continued to be as kind without minding how that incident turned out.
      Accidents happen and it’s human nature to blame. I feel so much for you, putting myself in your shoes. 42 years have gone dear, let’s look foward to beautiful experiences that your kindness can bring!
      Cheer up!

  13. Hi Laurie

    Great post, enjoy the analogies, and it seems that there is a lot more in there that is worth teasing out a little deeper.

    I am certainly a collector. I collect stuff in every dimension, and some stuff is useful, and some stuff requires more maintenance than it delivers value – that stuff is definitely worth getting rid of.

    In the emotional realm, it seems to be being worth getting clear about what is useful and what is not.
    It seems to me that it is not the experiences of life that need to be forgotten, these to me are always worth remembering, even if they seem at the time to be hell on earth.

    As human beings we find it very difficult just to have experiences. What we tend to do is to judge everything – this is good, that is bad, …….
    Most often it is these judgements about something, rather than the thing itself, that get in the way. The more simplistic the judgements, the less likely they are to actually be useful to us.
    As children, we have to start with simple things. All of us have to start making sense of the world of volition with simple distinctions, and the simplest way to divide any infinity is into two (good/bad, right/wrong, good/evil). These seem to me to be children’s attempts to make sense of our infinite creative power and our infinite ability to make a difference in the future, for ourselves, for our family, for our tribe, for our wider community, for humanity, for life itself.

    It seems to me important that we move past the simple (and necessary stage in our growth of) binary distinctions of childhood, and move into a realm of distinctions that are ever closer approximation to the potentially infinite chain of consequences of any action.
    Part of the process is realising that we are each one amongst many, and as the ripples of our choices spread out into the wider world, the meet with and interact with the ripples of the choices of everyone else, and that the precise effect of any of our action rapidly become unpredictable in this wider sense.

    So it seems to me that the emotional baggage that we can most powerfully leave behind is our declarations about the value of anything. The labels we put on experience of right/wrong, good/bad, good/evil are the things that taint and disturb our existence, trying as they do to make sense of this infinitely variable universe in which we find ourselves by stuffing all aspects of it into one of two boxes.

    The more we can go beyond such simplicity into the infinity of infinities beyond, and the more we can simply bring acceptance of all experience, the greater the freedom we each experience to make a real difference in the here and now.

    So for me it is a big yes to dumping our declarations, of past, present and future; and just learning to trust our intuitions to enable us to be and do the best we can in the instant, moment to moment to moment.

    It seems to me that all of theology is firmly rooted in those simple binary distinctions, so it is all best disposed of with the rest of the baggage. Seems to me that Jesus said a lot when he said “judge not lest ye be judged”.

    So yeah – dump the baggage of judgements, and keep the wealth of experience, and work at eliminating judgement from the experience of life (as far as that is possible) [that is conscious level judgements, the unconscious level judgements are necessary, and what allow us to survive in life, they are instantaneous, in the moment sort of judgements, not the sort that hang around and become grudges].

    Context is key to what we make of experience, change the context, and we change all of the meaning and significance (though the experience is unchanged).

    • Ted – I always enjoy reading your observations and feel privileged that you share them here. The portion that particularly jumped off the screen and resonated with me is:

      “So for me it is a big yes to dumping our declarations, of past, present and future; and just learning to trust our intuitions to enable us to be and do the best we can in the instant, moment to moment to moment.”

      My hat is off to you!

  14. I am an over-planner and an over-packer. If I’m honest, I probably have too much baggage I carry around in general. I think I’ve discarded a lot, but I’m sure I could still purge. I’m definitely a work in progress. This was another one of your posts that hit home!

  15. I carried a lot of emotional baggage with me for years, it nearly destroyed my life. I finally dealt with it and today when I do happen to recall something from the past it feels more like a dream or something that happened to someone else. The emotions are no longer tied to the memories and I am finally free of them, what a freeing experience that has been.

  16. My own “overpacking” relates to various “collections” in our home–books, CDs, DVDs, and even a few pinball machines to boot. I am always looking for a new way to ‘streamline.’ My wife Lucille too (a self proclaim ‘pack rat’) finds it difficult to part with items that have been part of the homescape for many years, though any ensconced in memories and emotional attachment are always more difficult to sort out.

    Great post Laurie!

    • Sam – Thank you for your visit today. As a minimalist who’s married to a maximalist I’m well acquainted with items a person can’t bear to part with. I must say, however, that as time goes on, it’s getting a wee bit easier to un-pry Len’s fingers 🙂

  17. Laurie, Your use of “luggage” is brilliant. Do you remember back in the day when luggage did not have any wheels? You had to physically pick up all that you had packed the night before and arduously carry your bag through the airport terminal. Your arms screamed and became sore, you discussed in your thoughts how you wished you had not packed 10 pairs of shoes and 30 outfits for a weeks vacation. The next trip you became wiser and left a few things at home. You could carry your bag farther without setting it down for a moments rest. Then something changed … Someone put wheels on our luggage, our minds. We pack useless “stuff” now more than ever. We frantically pace ourselves to go stand in queue, wheeling our “Baggage” along with us, to wait and ponder. I’m trying to make a point here … Maybe 😉
    Be well today!

  18. Gosh, Laurie, I needed this post today! I may be one of the planet’s more notorious over-packers–though I had strangely never made the association to emotional baggage. Perhaps my literal burdens speak to something more psychological I lug around, as well. This is so important to rememeber as Sara and I pack up our lives and move to Ecuador!

    • Kathy M. – In the comments section down below you’ll see how reader, “RMW” put it so beautifully:

      “I am getting rid of ‘stuff’ in my house as it is a manifestation of all the issues I am dragging around in my life… How many rubber bands and plastic forks do I really need? And how many grudges and excuses do they represent?”

      What a powerful observation!

  19. Love the post Laurie and the visual of, “Let go or be dragged.” — Zen proverb. Great to see you writing for magazines. That is my current goal, and I look forward to writing and submitting articles soon and see where it leads. 🙂

    • HelpWithYourLife – This is my 5th year writing for Sibyl and my 3rd writing for Evolving Your Spirit. I love it! I only recently figured out how to show them in my sidebar, and how to update the covers each month.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post, thank you for letting me know.

  20. Pingback: Friday Favorites, February 15th | livingsimplyfree

  21. I don’t overpack. I do tend to throw away stuff, however. Like, I have to have tops to everything in my kitchen that should have them, like pots or Tupperware. If the top is gone, I go to sleep thinking, Now that darn pot gotta go. It’s an undiagnosed disorder, I think. Had a real good friend with the same problem. Shucks, the more I think about it, sounds like baggage after all.

  22. Pleased to meet you, Laurie. I have definitely been dragged around by my baggage for the past few years….but with the help of others, I’m re-learning how to live. Thanks for writing this post – I look forward to reading more. ❤

  23. The extra baggage you speak of is, usually a product of the ego. Separating oneself from ego as necessary takes focus but, can also separate one from unnecessary baggage.

    As for the thumb drive. Hope you don’t depend on it as sole back-up as electronics can be vulnerable any time. I always back-up to 2 sources minimum, including a printed copy. Storing to the cloud is also not such a bad idea as multiple servers are usually involved with encryption.

  24. The wall of baggage that has separated me from my ability to live life has become so tirelessly cumbersome, and heavy. Twenty-some years ago, I began the process of lightening the load, only to discover in my mid-fifties that those things I thought I had released were still clinging to my spirit, and stifling the flow of energy in my life. My eyes grew wide with recognition, and it was then that it became clear to me that I have still have much to learn about the art of letting go.

    It truly resonated with me when you said “Many of us carry memories with us that don’t contribute to our wellbeing.” First, I had to learn to recognize that my wellbeing is something that requires tender loving care. Second, I had to accept that I have the ability to shape my wellbeing, and Third, I had to be willing to make changes in my life that would facilitate a shift in perspective. Letting go of that excess baggage doesn’t mean having less. It means you are opening your life to experiencing more. That’s been a difficult transition in perspective for me, and I truly appreciate what you’ve shared with us today as a reminder that in letting go, we are creating space for healthy living.

    • Ntexas99 – Just like a garden, our wellbeing (our inner ecology) does, indeed, require tender loving care. That includes the tedious (but well worth it) process of weeding. And you’re oh-so-right in that, “…in letting go, we are creating space for healthy living” — body, mind, and spirit.

  25. I am *such* an overpacker for trips, but I’m getting so much better at letting go of excess emotional baggage. (Besides, I’ve discovered that I actually use most of what I pack on vacation– even if it’s excessive. I rarely need my emotional baggage, so out it goes!)

  26. Pingback: Over-Packed? | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

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