We all have baggage. It comes as part and parcel of who we are, the sum of our experiences and our relationships. How we choose to carry that baggage is what differentiates us from each other. Some of us are like the pack horses or the pack mules of olden days. The weight of our burden is equally distributed and while the load is still there, it is not as noticeable. If our baggage is carried correctly and the weight properly and equally distributed, the burden isn’t as heavy and we are able to navigate forward, even if the pace at times is slow but steady. There are times when the load may shift, suddenly or temporarily, but we are able to recognize that the burden has shifted, stop and repackage ourselves. While no one travels through this life without baggage, these folks have their baggage well distributed and except for the occasional shifting which they recognize and adjust for, they move forward accepting and adjusting to each shift and each new package that is added to the load.
For others of us, we don’t distribute our baggage equally or properly during our journey. We sometimes load it all on our shoulders or our back or it weighs heavily in our hearts or on our minds. We cannot shake it, we cannot bear it and we cannot ignore, even for the slightest second that it is there. Our journey through this world is painful, uncomfortable and we are forever looking forward and back for a way and a place to unload our baggage. We cannot accept that we have a load to bear and we have to figure out the best way to carry it with the least impact on ourselves and the most grace and ease.
For different people, at different times, the baggage represents different things. It can be a wronged relationship- be it with a partner, a parent, a friend or a child. It can be poor health or a work or school related challenge. It can be the upheaval that comes with change – be that change good or bad, related to a job, a life circumstance or a move.
As the week opens, I realize that my load will shift this week. Everything that I have known for the past 18+ years is about to change. The first of my three boys will be like the little robin on the edge of the nest, ready to take off into the world starting with this week’s graduation. I cannot stop the journey, I cannot protect him from the world that awaits him for as much as I may try, I cannot take the next steps of the journey with him – not at least in the same way that I have journeyed with him for the past 18+ years, first when he was a physical part of me and when he entered this world breathing on his own his first breaths. All I can do is hold my breath and hope and pray that the wings work when he leaves the nest and that the fall is only temporary and he will rise up on the gentle breeze to the new challenges and experiences that he will face in college with grace and integrity and a smile on his face. I will have to sit back and hope that the job that I have done is a good one.
Over the weekend, at the orientation sessions we attended, we were reminded over and over again, that this transition to college will be difficult – more so for some than for others but hardest of all on each and every one of the parents involved in it. The load that we have been carrying as parents, balanced carefully if we have more than one child, will shift. We have to realize that the shift in our load will require adjustment – a breathing rest if you will, while you unload and reload the baggage that you carry to make the load more bearable, more evenly distributed and more easy to bear. When you start the journey again, it will be different, not as before.
My hope for each of you who are also experiencing your own shifting in the coming months from whatever source, I hope that you are afforded rest in a shady spot, where you can unload your baggage, examine each part of it and secure it again with the least discomfort for the journey ahead. That you may then take up your journey, with a new perspective and a steady pace.
My hope for my son and the others who will be making the same journey starting this week, take time to pack your load evenly and realize that the journey, while at times difficult, will be well worth the effort.