I have never been a person who is comfortable with having a lot of “stuff.” Maybe that’s the result of spending part of my childhood in a five-room apartment, where I was allotted two drawers, half of a small closet and three narrow shelves in which to store all my belongings, although I have to say that I never felt I needed more space. Later, when I was heading off to college, my family was also moving to another state, so I had to pack up everything I owned at the same time. I don’t remember how much I packed to take with me to college, but I do remember that the rest of my possessions fit neatly into two medium-sized cardboard boxes. And the movers lost one of them. I took that as a further sign that, in the grand scheme of things, I was not intended to have a lot of possessions.
All I do know is that if life is a journey, and I believe it is, then I prefer to “travel light.” I don’t want a lot of material possessions weighing me down, especially since I can’t stand clutter or mess. As far as I am concerned, having a lot of things just means I have to spend way too much time keeping all those things cleaned and organized, and that’s not how I want to spend my time.
But lately, I’ve come to realize that “traveling light” is not just about material possessions. One of the advantages of being middle aged is that we are just over the half-way point of our life’s journey. We can look back over the long road of where we’ve been and clearly see what worked, what could have been done better, and what was a downright disaster. But we can also look forward to a road ahead that is still long enough (if we’re lucky) that we can make the needed adjustments to get us closer to living the life we want to live. And I think the key to that is also “traveling light.”
I may have screwed up a lot in my life, but that doesn’t mean I have to carry that guilt or embarrassment with me forever. And like everyone who has ever been in any kind of relationship, I’ve had my share of hurt feelings and disappointments over the years, but that doesn’t mean I have to nurse those grudges for the rest of my life. That’s just too much baggage, and all it does is weigh me down. It makes so much more sense to forgive, both myself for the things I’ve done that I’m not so proud of, and others for the times they have unintentionally hurt me, and move on.
With my material possessions, I’m constantly evaluating what I have, deciding if it’s worth keeping or if it’s time to let it go. And I think that’s the best way to handle my emotional baggage as well: decide what is good and worth keeping because it enhances my life; and what is no longer worth hanging on to because it doesn’t serve any positive purpose. Because I really believe that if I want to get the most out of life, I always need to “travel light.”