Process of Illumination

Traveling Light: Parts 1 & 2

As the summer comes to a close, I’m doing one of my favorite things…sitting down to write in a cozy cafe and reflecting on the abundance of memorable moments from the past two months. I’ve been to so many places, had numerous adventures and gained so much insight that it is hard to decide what to choose for the purposes of this article. But, as often happens when I step back and watch the patterns develop, I can see that there was a definite thread which managed to weave itself through all of my experiences this summer…

I began to notice it, in a practical sense, as soon as I attempted to board my RyanAir flight from London to Dublin. As a less-than-savvy European traveller, I naively assumed that flying with the low-cost airlines would be more or less the same experience as with a major airline, except at a fraction of the cost. My first clue to the contrary should have been the confusing, seizure-inducing interface of RyanAir’s website but, alas, I remained blissfully unaware as to my impending wake-up call. It wasn’t until I tried to print my boarding pass the morning of my flight that it started to become clear that these flights are cheap for a reason. Fast-forward to the check-in counter, where I was charged over $115 CDN to “re-print” my boarding pass and was then told that my suitcase was 6 kg overweight and that it would cost me an additional $100 CDN in overweight fees. What?!? This was supposed to be a budget trip and the extra fees were amounting to more than double of the cost of the flight!  Luckily, I managed to re-pack the extra weight into my carry-on and avoid the overweight fees but, in an effort not to repeat the same mistake, I became obsessed with how much I was carrying. For the rest of my trip, I was afraid to buy anything I needed or wanted, let alone bring home any gifts and it hung over me like a cloud for the entire month I was away. As time went on, this worry was compounded by the realization that I was only using about 10% of the things I had brought with me. In fact, 90% of what I was schlepping from country to country, by plane, train, bus, car, boat and on foot was dead weight. “Next time”, I vowed, “I will have mastered the art of traveling light”. Lesson learned, or so I thought…

Arriving home and eager to finally be relieved of the burden of my luggage, I opened my closet and was hit with the realization that, not only was I carrying around dead weight in my suitcase, my house, too, was filled with even more superfluous items. I became overwhelmed with the need to purge all the “stuff” that was taking up so much physical and energetic space. I could feel the weight of it pressing down on me and, combined with the intensity of a mid-July heatwave and a broken air-conditioner, I felt I was heading for a crash. “That’s it”, I thought. “The stuff has got to go. That’s the act of self-love, to get my house in order so I can feel better.” So, I began to clean. And purge. And organize… and I did feel better… but it wasn’t until a week or so later, while in session with a client and talking about an emotional issue that needed to be “unpacked”, that I had the most important realization of all. Right there and then, it struck me how much “baggage” I was still carrying around. Not just physical baggage but mental baggage, emotional baggage, karmic baggage and the most frustrating of all… baggage that isn’t even mine! Looking back over the past 12 months, I can see that my intention to “receive” had made it necessary for me to make space by letting go and so, as this process gained momentum, each new experience led me to this pivotal point: It was time for me to, once-and-for-all, identify and cut loose any of the remaining “dead weight”.

Since then, its been pretty much zero-tolerance for dead weight. In the past, my default program was to “take stuff on”, whether it was good for me or not. This resulted in me feeling overwhelmed, resentful and depleted, not to mention taken for granted. The real kicker is that it was me who set myself up for all of it by agreeing to (and often times insisting on) it on in the first place. Now, thanks to my commitment to Self-Love, I’m able to create and maintain the boundaries necessary to make sure I’m “traveling light”. It does not make me more “worthy” to have more, do more, or be more and it certainly isn’t my job to feel responsible for another person’s growth. It is not possible for me to do their work for them and its unhealthy to try to meet their needs at the expense of my own so the only (and best) option is let go of the dead weight and make sure the rest is distributed evenly and appropriately.

Lesson learned? I certainly hope so.