We were about to go out for a trip… I can still remember what “Saturday” felt like 25 years ago…
I put my toys together, tools to play on the beach, sandals, several t-shirts and two short pants for the rest of the week. My mother would pack the huts, sun-screen lotion and some pocket medicines (aspirins, first-aid stuff, and maybe a set of clippers). Obviously, there was only one car per family, so space was limited and it had to be used efficiently.
However, as a latin woman she is, mom would go through our bags before we take off just to “check”. By the end of her supervision, one third or even half of the stuff would find its way back and would not leave the house. A small tantrum was always the reaction, and its average lasting time was about 10 minutes. Once we arrived at our destination (normally the beach), the toys left behind on the bed were not important anymore. The excitement of running and chasing the waves as they fade away in the sand was a hundred times more enjoyable than anything else. My mother, who knows better (of course), would made it clear that she was right… “If you bring too much stuff, you cannot enjoy the beach. You will find yourself taking care of things, and will miss the point of being at the beach”.
Today, I find myself in the midst of a young-adult life (whatever that means) that requires me to “take care” of many things: insurances, car, rent, groceries, clothes, credit cards, daily job, and on and on… and I can still hear my mother shouting to me “pull out half of the stuff from your backpack. You won’t need all that and you won’t enjoy the trip”.
Whether one believes in reincarnation, resurrection, evolution, or extraterrestrial master plans, we are here about 80 years on average. Life (in all its forms) is a short trip. The only constant and predictable aspect of life is that it is in constant change. Since this short trip is full of unpredictable turns, positives and negatives events will shape the course of our experience. Sometimes the trip is rather shorter, sometimes is longer. Some people find themselves next to the window, some others find it squeezed in the middle of strangers, and some others travel asleep so that they are not even aware they are traveling… No matter in what scenario we find ourselves traveling, a light luggage will always make the trip a little easier.
Traveling with a few little things is not about searching for a “monastic”, “poor”, or a “restrained” life. Traveling light is about freedom.
Freedom is ultimately one of the key ingredients for happiness and joy. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines freedom as “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”. One is generally a free person when finds him or herself spending time doing what it is most enjoyable without much restrains: spending time with loved ones, building meaningful relationships, playing the piano, traveling (or whatever you really enjoy doing), etc. But if one spends its time making the “luggage” bigger, one has to carry it and that consumes much time and energy; the time and energy required to enjoy the trip.
Traveling light is a concept that makes some people uncomfortable. We live in a society that equates success with accumulation. Therefore, we spend our days working hard in order to “make it” so that one day one has “enough”. The problem with this mentality is that “enough” is an illusion. The day of “having enough” is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is a tramp that catches people in a never-ending search. In the mean time, our relationships suffer, our body suffers, and in order to escape that pathological pattern, we engage even deeper in the illusion of “one day I will enjoy life” if I just keep trying harder now.
Traveling light is an attitude towards life. It is the attitude of understanding that life is fragile, and that we are here for a very short time. Traveling light also implies to release the toxicity of the past; the past does not exist. As much trauma, regrets, and bad experiences we have had (because we all have them one way or another), one must learn to release the toxicity that they once created. Our luggage becomes extremely heavy and uncomfortable to carry when is full of negative emotions, and those emotions are normally rooted in the past.
I am more able to experience and to enjoy life if I have less things to carry with me. Wether it is emotional luggage or material possessions, there is a sense of freedom if one has less to worry about. Traveling light might be a risk… It might represent to leave things behind. It might represent a detachment from things. It might represent to live with less…But it is worth to try. Perhaps that way, we might suddenly discover ourselves actually enjoying the trip.
My mom was right… I didn’t miss my toys once I saw the beach. I didn’t need that much to enjoy. In fact, they were distractions from the real pleasure. Let’s “check” our backpacks… There might be some things we just simply don’t need and will make the trip less enjoyable.