Somewhere along the path of my life, I developed the concept of “the suitcase”. The suitcase is, basically, the baggage I choose to carry along with me during the course of my life. I’m not sure where the idea came from, but I have had this mental suitcase for most of my conscious life. We all have a mental suitcase, and a million times each day we are given an opportunity to decide what we want to put in there.
Now, keep in mind that the size of the suitcase is limited only by your imagination, and I keep mine fairly small as far as suitcases go. My suitcase is more like a carry-on. I see it clearly in my mind’s eye and it looks a lot like a case my grandmother had when I was growing up. Mine is about 18” wide x 18” long x 8” deep, emerald green exterior, lined with white satin, and has the two fasteners on the front that pop open when you slide the fastener button outward. Remember? That’s my mental suitcase.
I can tell that some people have one of those old 1800’s steam trunks with all the little compartments and cubbies for storing stuff. Black metal with wood and leather accents and a strap so you can drag it along behind you. You can see the weight of it on them even if you can’t “see” their suitcase. I think they’re beautiful, those cases, but I don’t want that mental suitcase. So, I keep mine small and I sift through it on a regular basis, adding this, removing that.
I’m having to do that now, which is why I’m once again furiously tapping the keyboard keys, organizing my thoughts and the contents of that suitcase as I go, and bringing you along and into the process as well. Why? Because these are skills that I have developed to help me along the way and maybe, just maybe, something I say or do will resound with you and help you too. So, let’s take a look into our suitcases today, together.
I am a collector; some would say a hoarder. I collect all kinds of things for many different reasons. I get that from my mother. I am also perfectly capable of letting go of things that are cluttering up my space, making me feel closed in or weighed down, and that comes from my dad. It’s an interesting dichotomy and I embrace it because it has served me well over the years. I have had to let go of all, or almost all, my earthly possessions so many times, whether by choice or from necessity, that I learned very quickly how to recognize what is important to me, and what is not. What serves me, and what hinders me. Admittedly, it has been a while since I looked into my suitcase.
So many treasures I have collected in my suitcase over the years. So much love. It is the love that I cherish the most, the love that lives within each of my treasures, the love that I wish to keep with me in its most pure and pristine form. Everything else must go. They’re not a true reflection of who I was then, who I am now, or who I want to be in the future, so I don’t need them in my suitcase. My personal advice is to keep only those things that serve your highest good in your suitcase.
There is a good bit of fear tossed into mine along with its constant companion, disappointment. Fear of being hurt. Fear of loss. Fear of another disappointment. So many disappointments. We tend to hold on to those because we think we are protecting ourselves by doing so, but it’s not true. They’re very heavy and they tend to rattle around in my suitcase; the clanging of a ball and chain. Unyielding steel of prison bars.
What else do we have in here; trust issues. These remind me of jax. Remember jax from when we were kids? Throw them out on the table, bounce the little ball, and swipe up the jax in an increasingly complex manner until someone fails and someone else is a “winner”? I spent many hours playing jax with my sister when we were young. Anyway, my suitcase is full of these trust issues that look like shiny, pretty, little stars in multiple colors, and I can put them into play at any time, but have you ever stepped on a jax? They’re sharp, and pointy, and they hurt. She who juggles the most jax, as it turns out, isn’t the “winner” after all.
Now, the hardest part. The pocket that’s built into the inside of the lid. This pocket holds all those things I don’t want to look at every time I pop open my suitcase. The hidden things. Things I didn’t ask for but that other people have given to me, themselves so convinced of their value that I believed too. Illusionary trinkets that look like one thing but are actually something else. You know, like the rock that looks like Snoopy if you hold it just right, but is really, well, just a rock. This pocket is like that stash of gifts we keep for birthdays we forgot about until last minute or holiday guests who pop in unexpectedly. I often reach in there and gift these things to others without any real forethought. This pocket is like a magician’s black bag, because when you peer into its depths you never really know what you’ll find. Discarding these isn’t easy either, because they’re covered in a very sticky substance that wants to stick to you like hot gum on the bottom of your shoe.
Self proclaimed failures, for example. There is really no such thing as a “failure”. There are only failed attempts. False starts that for one reason or another didn’t end as we hoped. Maybe we didn’t have all the pertinent information in the beginning but once we received it we changed our course. That’s not a failure; that’s knowledge gained. Perhaps we worked for something because it was presented to us as right, good, and honorable, but we came to the understanding that it wasn’t a good fit, after all. That’s not a failure; that is self love. It could be that you worked so hard, worked so long, with single-minded determination, to attain this or achieve that, and when you had done so realized it couldn’t sustain you. That’s the toughest one of all, but that’s not failure. That’s wisdom. At the end of the day, your self proclaimed “failures” are really, in essence, growth.
Something else you might find in that pocket are self limiting beliefs. “I’m not good enough, strong enough, beautiful enough, smart enough.” You’re wrong. You are the physical manifestation of the most powerful, limitless force of nature and this world will bend to your will; if only you would believe. You are source, in the flesh. You are a culmination of the very best of countless generations of ancestors. You are that which they manifested.
“Only through struggle do we find things of value, and valuable things are always hard to obtain.” You’re wrong. The most valuable things are those freely given. They flow to us with ease and grace, gliding easily through the door of thankfulness. The trick is being open to receive. The trick is believing you are worthy. The trick is recognizing the value of the gift you have been given.
“I’m only successful if I have a lot of “things” to impress other people. Pretty things, flashy things, expensive things.” You’re wrong. Less really is more. More freedom. More financial security. More space to just breathe. More time to be grateful, more time to appreciate, more time for thankfulness. More time to love, yourself and others. More time to explore the world, the world within and the world without. More time for discovery; for seeking those things that fulfill you, bring you joy, make you whole. More time to dream, to meditate, to manifest. Here, in the midst of “less”, is where we find more of everything.
Don’t be afraid to dig around in the darkness of that pocket of questionable stuff. Shine your light in there, pull them out, and really look at them. Where did I even get that? Who “gifted” this to me without any real forethought? Why am I still carrying it around? Does it serve my highest good? Does it have any intrinsic value? Is it real? Is it true? 99.9% of the time, what’s in there, what we are afraid to really examine, is junk. Toss it and leave it where it lands. It’s not for you.
Now, all that is left in my suitcase are the things that I treasure. The love that I’ve shared with people. The magic of my babies, warm and safe in my arms. Memories of laughter, warm hugs, shared smiles. Side splitting belly laughs that took me by surprise. Thick warm socks after a cold, hard floor and the soft flannel shirt with the unfortunate hole.
The sense of big, wet, snowflakes falling into the stillness of the night, spotlighted by the glow of the moon while the rest of the world sleeps, missing the quiet beauty. The sound of fall leaves crackling under my feet as I wandered the wooded hills of my childhood home, the smell of wood burning stoves filling my nose. The freshness of a spring morning, honeysuckle wafting by on the breeze. An oasis of relief found under a giant oak tree in the heat of a midwestern summer day.
The memory of standing at the bus stop on a cold winter morning, the air so crisp and so cold that it froze nose hairs and chapped cheeks. Yes, even that memory is now treasured. Just as treasured as hearing mom call down to us that school was cancelled, because now we can truly appreciate that moment of rushing back into the warm, safe haven of “home”; stomping the snow from our feet, flinging coats, gloves, hats, and scarves as we raced to gather around that wood stove, moods elevated, joy in our eyes as we discussed snow day plans. Suddenly free. Memories from those snow day activities, when our world was young and our hearts were new. Some of my favorite treasures.
Memories of those I’ve encountered whose eyes reflected back to me all that is beautiful about me. Other souls who feel so familiar and comforting, so beautiful and peaceful, loving to me then and still. Memories of a lover’s touch. Lessons that have been learned, the blessings from the pains, that guide us forward. So much to be treasured from my time in this place and those are the things that I wish to keep in my suitcase. Those are the things I will take with me when I leave here. And, here’s the secret about those things. There is infinite space available in your suitcase for those things. They not only weigh nothing, but by some magical happenstance, they make us lighter.
So, how big is your “suitcase” and what are you keeping in there?
I have always been a writer, letting my thoughts and emotions spill out on paper where I can express myself in a way I can’t do verbally. Perhaps because some things are too difficult to verbalize. Some things you can’t bear to say out loud. Once they’re given voice they become living extensions of ourselves. So, at a young age, I began to write. I wrote in notebooks and on notebooks. On scraps of paper and abandoned napkins. My mother saw this and bought me a journal for my birthday one year. I remember flipping through those blank pages envisioning my words written on them, thinking that now, finally, I could say some things! I'm still saying some things.