Close your eyes.
Are they closed? What do you see? Okay, push that aside. There, now you should have a blank canvas. It could be black like a screen or white like an art board – regardless, it’s ready for you to start creating.
I want you to think ten years into the future. Where are you? What are you doing? Do you have a family and a home full of love? Are you travelling abroad, experiencing different cultures and seeing new and exciting places? Are you financially stable – do you own a nice house and have a comfortable nest egg. Or are you helping others achieve their hopes and dreams, giving of yourself and your resources to foster good in the world? Are you happy? I mean, are you really content? Are you at peace with yourself, God and those around you?
For some people, their ten-year plan is predictable, meaning they can count on it. Very little goes horribly wrong and consequently, they are able to stay the course until completion. For others, harsh winds blow them off course or the road is washed out completely and they are forced to take a detour or change directions all together. Circumstances that are out of their control cause them to veer off-track, to take alternate routes and even make a few u-turns along the way.
The last ten years of my life have been turbulent to say the least but they have been an integral part of my journey. The last decade however, has also forced me to articulate what is truly important, what my values and priorities are, where I am willing to sacrifice and how to prepare for the unpredictable rough patches as I go forward. I have also become a more complete version of myself. I have come to understand more fully who I am and how I can live life more fully each and every day.
Through the u-turns, detours and even the extended rest stops I have realized the importance of travelling light. When we carry too much baggage with us, or store up too much in the unvisited attics or basements of our lives, hearts and minds, it is difficult to change direction, should we need to. It is hard to wade through deep waters or smelly swamps with fifty pounds packed into a designer leather suitcase…not that I have tried it. Baggage can weigh us down emotionally and mentally. Baggage keeps us from being fully present in the moment, being aware of our surroundings and enjoying the majestic views. It can also slow us down. When we are unclear of our own values we can end up chasing dreams that aren’t really our own, but rather, somebody else’s. Then we have to take time to back track and re-orient ourselves, charting out a new course and finding a new path. It can also make the journey painful and burdensome.
Baggage keeps us from being fully present in the moment, being aware of our surroundings and enjoying the majestic views.
If you have every hiked around Europe with only a backpack you know just how sore your body can get. The stress of the baggage we carry can wear on us emotionally, mentally and physically.
After college, I backpacked around Europe with a few friends. It was following a tour of Ukraine with my College choir, which meant there was very little space for anything other than my concert uniform, music and other items needed for an entirely different experience. By the time we left the rest of the tour group at the Vienna airport, I had emptied what was not necessary from my backpack and was left with only two outfits, which I wore every day for the next month, some toiletries (no make-up of course) and a binder with all of my travel details because believe it or not, this was before the age of the smart phone. The funny thing is that despite my love for clothes, I was as happy as a clam. I did not have and therefore I did not want. The opportunity to journey was enough for me. I was just happy to be there. I had places I wanted to see, things I wanted to experience – I knew where I was going and a plan on how I was going to get there.
I had a similar experience when we moved to England in order for my husband to do his Master’s degree. We took six suitcases between myself, my husband and our two children. We didn’t own a car and since we were only going to be there for a year, took no furniture and had arranged our affairs so that we had very few commitments – financial or otherwise. We had a dream – for Ben to get his Master’s degree. It was the best year of our lives.
Excess baggage can keep us from dreaming. It comes in many forms and for the next week, I will be exploring what this baggage looks like. Sometimes, it hides in places we didn’t even know where there and sometimes we wear it so well that we become comfortable in it.
Sometimes, we get so caught up on keeping up that we forget to look up and take inventory. Here is your chance.
Breath in this moment. Welcome to the journey.