In my suitcase, I pack...

The tickets are reserved! Yay! Our flight to Mexico was booked and we were leaving in just 3 short weeks! I remember packing, then repacking, adding, then subtracting, then multiplying and finally dividing! Careful review of Internet travel sites yielded lists of essentials, tips for efficient, economical packing, along with cautions against over-packing. I asked myself, "What do I really need as I travel to remote areas?" I was hauling a battered canvas backpack, emblazoned with a Canadian flag, attesting to other such adventures so that by now I should know better than to over-pack. Thus begins the adventure of traveling light. Now you're thinking this article is a timely piece about what to take on that end of winter vacation. This is only the pretext. Instead, let's talk about traveling light on our journey through life. You have only one bag to take on this journey, be it Gucci or department store special. It must not weigh more than X and be larger than Y. You must pack for a variety of contingencies, yet leave room for the souvenirs you will acquire along the way.

What will you take on your life's journey? And whose baggage is it that you're hauling? It's my journey, my bag, so I will take only my baggage. As I would not pack my relative's underwear in my suitcase, I will not carry his chemical dependencies. Nor would I pack my obnoxious co-worker's toothbrush, so why would I pack her unkind words and gossipy attitude? I will carefully choose the words I receive and share, measuring their worth and usefulness on my life journey (Note: your toothbrush is a definite must!) Who, in our lives, pulls us down, and yet we drag them along, allowing them too much space in our lives and in our baggage?

You will meet many people who are happy and willing to share their opinions. Take some of their advice and leave the rest. When we travel, we travel off the beaten track This requires an open mind and lots of planning. A Lonely Planet guidebook is a wonderful tool that helps us choose our destination and our best route. Besides a good guidebook, we use our intuition and inspiration. Our own motivation, willpower and feet will do the rest. Any time we journey through life, we are traveling off the beaten track. There is much to discover by living vicariously through your own life (Note: Find helpful guides and mentors to be your carry-on. Be fueled by your own energy and good sense!).

Water found in oceans represents a vast expanse, an openness to the unknown and is symbolic of life and opportunity. We revere it and fear it at the same time. We know that rip tides, sharp jagged coral and large carnivorous beast lurk, so we exercise judgment and caution as we do on our life's journey. There are many hidden dangers and many unknowns along the way (Note: Pack a bathing suit and be aware, but take the plunge and enjoy!).

As you journey through life you will collect souvenirs. These include: good friends, valuable skills, meaningful experiences, knowledge, passion and memories. Do you have room in your bags for these? What can you discard to make space? What are you packing in your bag for your life's journey? All you really need is a change of underwear, a toothbrush, a bathing suit and your guidebook. May your journey through life be exciting and laden only with rich experiences and beautiful memories. And may you collect as many good souvenirs as you've made room for! Happy Travels!

Note: Inspired by my good friend, Eleanor Cowan, this article was first published in QAAL's Linking for Learning Newsletter, Spring 2002.


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