I enjoy traveling. I also like to be prepared. So, when it comes to packing my bag(s), I have a reputation for taking along much more than is necessary. Hey, you never know when you might need three extra pair of socks, some Vitamin C, a 12 pack of LARABARs, a travel candle, a carabiner with flashlight/compass, and plenty of tea bags! However, I'm learning to lighten the load when I travel. I've learned that the less I pack, the less I have to carry and keep up with (and eat before my return). And, I really do just fine without all the excess.
It seems that lightening the load is something that I'm having success with in many areas of my life and this comes without regret. By simplifying my home space, my schedule, my quiet time, my diet and even my suitcase I have been able to see and hear God's activity more clearly because there is less distraction. However, this takes commitment and determination as it is very easy to slip back into thinking I need more stuff or less space on my calendar. I know I'm not even close to mastering my load but I am encouraged to strive to eat, live, travel and pack more simply.
As I was traveling this week from Nashville to Chicago I loaded my one suitcase onto the plane and a woman in front of me said she was so envious that I had such a light load. She admired my packing skills with her compliments and said she could never slim down her bags to just one (she had three on her shoulder and who knows how many were checked, so I'm not sure I should have considered this a huge compliment). However, I was pretty proud of my growth and recalled the same trip just a year ago when I had nearly twice as much stuff to lug on the plane.
Once in the city, I arrived at the train station and a gentleman offered to carry my bag down a rather long flight of stairs. I could have carried it and refused his offer, but he genuinely acted as if he wanted to help, so I let him. After lifting my small but mighty bag (yes, it was a little heavy, I still had at least six LARABARs and two extra pair of socks for the next 72 hours) down the very long flight of steps, I made a not very humble comment about how much I'd slimmed down my packing over the last couple of years and may have said something about how impressed he should have been with my packing skills. But as he sat my bag down at the bottom of the steps, he looked at me and stated that I clearly still had room for improvement. Yes, strange man, I surely do. And, at the next flight of stairs, he walked down those steps right in front of me without even a glimpse. I think we both know there is more work to be done in regards to my suitcase and my life.
What about you? Is your load lighter or heavier than it was a year ago? If it is lighter, what areas have you begun simplifying and what benefits have you seen because of your efforts? If your load is heavier, where could you start to clear some clutter for the benefit of clarity and simplicity? You may just find that the results are well worth a good purge. If you need some inspiration, you may want to check out a book I just recently finished and would highly recommend by Jen Hatmaker, "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess".
Whitney R. Simpson
• author • yoga & meditation teacher • spiritual director • creating soul care resources for exploring the gift of God's peace with breath, body & spirit •
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Whitney R. Simpson,
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