Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Carry-on Baggage

So... the question this week is "what do you carry with you"?

It's a complicated question, depending on how it's framed.

I believe we come to this earth with some baggage already attached. We have lessons to be learned from previous lives and genetic memory. In that sense, we carry traits from our ancestors, both physical and emotional.

We come to adulthood carrying the baggage from our childhoods in this life. Since no one I knew grew up with Ward and June, I would assume nearly everyone has at least some.

We carry the lessons of this lifetime and the memory of circumstances which bring about our learning them. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow has no road map. We just learn, and learn, and learn a bit more. Eventually, we stumble on many pots in different locations, filled to different capacities.

Along the way, we make a lot of choices about what to do with our baggage. Do we bury it in the back of a closet and hope it goes away, tattered and beaten up as it often is? Do we give it away to someone else who might be able to use it? Do we throw it in the landfill, hoping to never see it again? Or do we continue to carry it around, pulling it behind us everywhere we go?

Maybe we dismantle it and use the parts to create something else. We use it to inspire, to educate, to comfort others. Do we use it to be in service or do we use it to firmly entrench ourselves into permanent victimhood?

They're all valid choices, each with their own benefit package.

I choose to integrate mine, rather than overcome it. The word "overcome" implies a psychic battle .. a winner and a loser. Victory and defeat. I prefer to think of these various things I carry around ~ from past life lessons, genetic memory, childhood and adult experiences ~ as tools that I can use to inspire others.

As we unpack our baggage, we can usually find nuggets of wisdom here and there, hidden in the corners and the side pockets, wisdom we've gained, reasons that make sense in retrospect.

I am a person with a great deal of faith. These experiences we carry and the wounds, unhealed and healed, bring us closer to the person we are meant to be. I believe that is true for each of us.

"We are all teachers, and what we teach
is what we learn, and
so we teach it over and over again until we learn..."

A Course In Miracles


Lawyer Mama said...

You're so right, Chani. Everything we've experienced, good and bad, makes us who we are today. We have something to learn from each experience if we just choose to listen and learn it.

meno said...

I do not believe in past lives, but i also know that i don't know everything. I think some of our baggage is genetic, and some is situational.
I like what you said about intergrating rather than vanquishing your baggage. Vanquishing implies that we haven't anything to learn from it, that it's just crap. And whilst it may indeed be crap, that doesn't mean it holds no lessons.

QT said...

I have accepted my baggage and I am in the process of gleaning the nuggets of wisdom.

I think that is going to take awhile. :)

It is funny that you quote A Course In Miracles - the restaurant that I went to in the Dells, the picture I posted? Is owned by the person who wrote that book.

*begin Twilight Zone music*

Anonymous said...

I have often thought of my baggage. I have thrown it away in a landfill and would you believe at the first second of stress my bags are at my feet. I've attempted overcoming my bags, but for me that is a mountain I can not climb. I've walked dragging them behind me appologizing to those I've tripped along their path due to my enormous baggage. Then one day, I cut my bags with all their contents up and made a glorious wardrobe upon which I wear, proudly.

flutter said...

Oh Chani!
How I needed this today. How I need to be reminded to be wise with my luggage and to cultivate it into something of worth.
and you...I am so proud of what you are doing with yours. I know I have lives in the past that paint the colors I see so vividly that I can't differentiate what was then and what is now...just right this moment I see, that's ok.

slouching mom said...


Our baggage has made us who we are, for good or bad.

Snoskred said...

My Reflecting Pool - wow, that was a great comment.. :) I can't top that, so I'll only say that to use the baggage to entrench one self in permanent victimhood is a choice, you are right. It is an extremely bad one, and one I'm watching my sister make as time goes on.

It is really difficult to sit by and watch while someone you love turns into someone you don't know and you can't even see how they could get there from growing up in the same house. :(

Sure, my life has not been perfect, there has been some really tought stuff I have had to survive, and even then I know that path is not a good one to take, ever. My sister is so wrapped up in the benefits she gets, constant empathy, constant back patting - there there dear, it'll all be fine. She flits from one drama to the next and *enjoys* every minute of it.

My part in it is now not to create any drama she can use for that, I'm becoming aware of that..

Great post. ;)

liv said...

Baggage. I used to be fond of murmuring something about at least knowing what mine was like and having a matched set. Now, I don't know. I'd like to open up, sort through and maybe condense the number of bags I carry. Some things we don't need any longer. The lesson is learned. Can we let go?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I think that I grew up carrying the baggage of my parents like a little coolie, and along the way, my childhood developed its very own baggage which was added to the load.

It was heavy.

Eventually, I realized that the only way to free myself of the burden was to examine it, not to feel justified in my self-pity, but to understand why it came to me, what its lessons were. And in so doing, I was able to dispel some of it. The rest, I'm working on.

I am even glad that life has presented these opportunities to learn and to become better, even if it's only better at being myself. An unexamined life does not lead to any kind of progress, nor does a life where everything we want comes to us effortlessly.

And I do very much believe in past and future lives. I think it is no more remarkable than that we are here at all.

Consider child prodigies like Mozart. How is it possible for a child of four to compose a magnificent symphony unless he had been an accomplished musician in former lives, and was able to access his memories as few can?

I am trying to learn as much as I can in this life so that I will have a higher rebirth next time, and so that I will have freed myself of as much baggage as possible, and can use more of my energy to do good works.

thailandchani said...

LM, who was it who said that we are the sum total of our experiences? :)


Meno, vanquishing also has a competitive feel to it.. almost like fighting with oneself for dominion. This part will be dominant. No! That part will be dominant! It's like some weird sort of MPD. It's always better, imo, if we can integrate and assimilate.


QT, oh wow! That is such a pretty restaurant, too.

I studied ACIM many years ago.. in the 80s sometimes, and for the most part, it seemed like touchy-feely tripe. but there's also some really good stuff in it.. stuff that's really universal.


Reflecting... your coat of many colors. :) Love what you wrote.


Flutter, you still remember? That's awesome!


SM, agreed... entirely.


Snos, from the sounds of what you've described, the most you can do is show compassion for your sister. It's awfully hard to say what her journey is about this time.. what her lessons are. The most you can do, imo (which is worth what you're paying for it, btw) is to detach from the outcome and continue to be kind to her while drawing a very firm boundary to protect yourself.

People like that... don't always realize what they are doing.

Sorry to be nosy.... It's just my intuitive take on it.


Liv, oh yeah! Once we've drawn what we can from it, it becomes just some distant part of our history.

Mine still rattles around in the closet occasionally... those Dickensian ghosts that rattle their chains.. so there must be more for me to learn from it.


Susan, I'm with you entirely on that. I also want to learn my lessons well so that I can move on to a higher birth.

Someone asked me one time what I'd like to hear from God (used in the western sense... judgment) after I transition. "You learned your lessons well." That's all I ask.




jen said...

i tend to think of our baggage as protection, and over time with the right circumstances and self awareness we travel lighter and lighter. but some of those bags we swear we cannot live without, and then one day, we are free.

Lucia said...

A lovely, thoughtful post.

mitzh said...

My baggages are what makes me stronger. They sometimes gets the best in me and sometimes they make me grow into something I never know existed..

They are the reminder of what we're really all about when we get lost...

Thanks for posting this, it made me smile...

Anonymous said...

I don't know. Lately I don't feel like dredging through my bag of rocks, and it sure doesn't make a comfortable pillow when I take a rest along my journey.

On the other hand, I don't want to be taking rocks, one by one, out of my bag and handing them out to my kids.

Perhaps I've turned them over and over often enough that they are smooth and flat enough to skim across a placid lake.

Tabba said...

I so enjoyed this post. And it has got me thinking very closely about my baggage. The bags that have been exchanged for newer ones. Ones that maybe I don't need. And ones that I have just realized that I let go of.

The thing that worries me though, is how my baggage carries over into the little ones.
And I don't even realize it.

Catherine said...

Great thoughts and insights...I appreciate what you said about finding the nuggets - its so true...

kaliroz said...

Right on, sister!

I try to live with no regrets. I do so because everything in this life I've experienced -- the pain and joy -- have made me me. There is good baggage and there is bad baggage. I think it's by learning to understand and appreciate both for what they are that we can free ourselves from it.

Wonderful post, as always.

MsLittlePea said...

Oh Chani-this could not have come at a better time. I've been crying all morning because of a heated conversation I had about this very topic with one of my loved ones. She got irate with me because I'm trying to help her see that we can either choose to learn from and let go of our childhood and anger or we can let it poison us. As it kills me to see her let it poison her. I try everyday to remember the past and use it as a tool for the kind of person I want to be. I see her using the past to hurt herself and those around her. When she speaks to me again I'm going to show her this post.

urban-urchin said...

i don't believe in past lives but do believe that our baggage is both nature and nurture.

I also think we have choices as to how we deal with it, where we store it (if at all) and how to react to others who push the buttons that release it.

Hel said...

Maybe we dismantle it and use the parts to create something else. - This one is my favourite

Wangari Maathai inspires me :

Emily said...

This post was exactly what I needed tonight. I was doing the dishes as the kids ran around and yet another memory with all the attached emotion came flooding over me. As I have been writing, it is happening more and more. I had memories, but now I am feeling what I felt when I suddenly remember. And I just thought: "I can't do it. I can't keep this up and keep letting these emotions flood over me at random moments."

But, I want to integrate, not battle. I will not fight it.

BTW -- thank you for being there through this process.

painted maypole said...

What a beautiful way to look at "baggage"

thailandchani said...

Jen, interesting you mention that. It does protect us in a sense. When we no longer need it, we shed it.

wow.. yeah. I hadn't thought of it that way. :)


Lucia, thank you. :)


Mitzh, I think you're right. On all counts.


Tabba and De, I'm not sure there's any way to avoid passing our "stuff" along to our kids. It's just a question, perhaps, of how we do it.. how we frame it.. and what we teach them as a result of it.

Fear is the greatest danger... teaching kids to be afraid of everything.

JMO :)


Catherine, thank you. :) Those nuggets. Yeah. Without the nuggets, it would all be crap. Meaningless.


Roz, I think that's true. We need to acknowledge our good baggage, too. Most of us automatically assume baggage is negative.


MsPea, it's her journey. That's the hardest part about trying to help others. They have their own journey, their own path.. and things happen when they are meant to happen. We can't make the river flow any faster than it will.

I hope the post helps her. :)


U-U, oh yes.. we do have choices. Absolutely! That's the wonder of it all. What if we were just stuck with it, no matter what? EEEEK!


Hel, thanks for the link. I'll check it out. :)


Emily, I have those same reactions. It's called PTSD. Sometimes the only thing to do is intentionally root yourself to place and time.

I'm not joking. Really.

I used to have it so badly that I would say out loud, "this is Tuesday, August 10th and I'm in my house in Tucson. I'm not there any longer. No one can hurt me."

Just a suggestion. It begins to integrate after a while. It really does get better.

I wish you .. peace... and healing.


Maypole, thanks. :)


Peace to all... and thank you for chiming in on this.


Julie Pippert said...

Excellent! Your point about overcoming is inspired. It brought into focus and clarity the general concept I have about this, as well as other issues such as grief, etc. that are generally labeled negative and requiring of stiff upper lips. I'm so glad you added your voice to this. I just kept nodding and nodding as I read.

KC said...

Baggage is meant to be unpacked, put away in our mental closet, having shaped us, and hopefully, allowed for our eventual growth. I'm proud of my baggage.

Emily said...

Funny -- I never considered myself as having PTSD. If anything, I am hyper-functional. But it may be time for me to recognize that just because I am doing well doesn't mean that I am not post-traumatic.

Thanks for the good suggestion.