When I was a kid, baggage referred to those cardboard suitcases we kept in the attic. With handles for carrying (no wheels, yet), they were usually tan with different shades of brown stripes around the middle. My dad had a brown leather one, my mother a pair in blue (she always packed more).
Getting them—or some of them—down from storage meant my parents were off on a trip, or, if school was out, I was heading off to camp. In any event, suitcases were meant to hold personal belongings for some sojourn away from the house. Very simple. No fuss.
It’s only recently that “baggage,” a word that used to evoke images of Liz Taylor, diamonds, poodles, trunks, and retainers, has morphed into something more sinister, from the tangible and glamorous to internalized lifetime burdens of mental angst; as weighty as the cases, but unable to be unpacked at journey’s end.
Now, this personal, emotional baggage with its soiled contents remains lodged in our heads, poised, waiting to strike out at unfortunate, although predictable, moments. “Have just one more drink,” it whispers, or, “Thanksgiving dinner’s the perfect time to tell Aunt Betty and her ‘friend’ what you feel about gays.”
And you do, even though the last time you drank to excess or “spoke the truth” it didn’t turn out well, either. Surely, you hadn’t forgotten? Why didn’t you choose ginger ale this Thanksgiving? Why, when you speak your “truth” is it always hurtful, never helpful? It took a long time to realize that all my own baggage wasn’t in the attic.
As we start another circumnavigation of our G2V star, we might want to be more discriminating about what we’re bringing aboard for the journey. As a writer and photographer, I carry plenty of actual heavy objects through TSA to go to Paris or Amsterdam. How might I lighten the ballast in my skull?
Not yet having removed the beam from my own eye, I won’t criticize the mote in yours; but perhaps, as we embark upon this solar circuit, we could start by examining the behaviors we repeat that never bring peace or comfort to others or ourselves. Leave them behind this time; they’ll not be missed, I guarantee.