I recently traveled with my family for our annual vacation to Telluride, Colorado. An interesting event occurred en route that made me pause and reflect on what we really, truly need. We had arrived at the Denver airport and were transferring from a jet to a small commuter plane. It seated perhaps fifteen people. With all the changes in the rules about carry-on baggage now, one can never be too sure what is or isn’t allowed. On this particular flight, we were informed that we were limited to carrying on one item.
One item. Now this was disconcerting. I had thee items: a backpack bursting at the seams with necessities for my children, my purse, and my laptop. Let’s take a look for a moment. The backpack contained food, water, diapers, wipes, books, and other comfort items for my children. My purse contained money, credit cards, and my driver’s license – in essence, everything I need to prove who I am. And my laptop which contains all my work files and is, not inconsequentially, my link to the outside world.
It was a tough decision. And I wasn’t the only one who faced a dilemma. Other passengers were also having a very difficult time deciding what to take and what to stow away in that little space under the plane. People became angry, anxious, and argumentative. The flight proved punishing for so many people in so many ways for so many different reasons. Experiencing this and watching the angst going on around me, I began to think about all of the things I carry around and why I carry them… not just for this flight, but through my entire life.
In Richard Leider’s book, Repacking Your Bags, he states that “developing one’s own vision of the good life is a matter of constant choice. Repacking your bags is not essentially about reaching the destination, but rather about the learning journey.”
In my Women’s Success Circles, we spend quality time reflecting on our passion, purpose, and plans. Part of this process involves looking at what we have in our lives that we need to keep, what we need to let go of, and what we should add to the mix moving forward. As women move into what Carl Jung called “the afternoon of life” we realize that some of the things that have served us along the way no longer make sense for the next chapter of our lives.
So here are the questions I’ve been pondering since that flight – questions that I’m now using with my coaching clients: On this journey called life, what are you carrying with you? Have you taken an inventory lately? What are you carrying that you really don’t need? What have you been carrying around for far too long, perhaps out of habit and nothing more? Do all the things you carry make you happy and add value to your life? Are there things that you’re not carrying that perhaps you should consider adding to your life suitcase? What would you carry if you were living a life filled with meaning and purpose?
By the way, that day on the commuter plane, I chose to take the backpack. I figured I could always buy another laptop and that I didn’t need to have my driver’s license on my person to know who I am. And I knew I wanted to be sure that my children had food, water, and their little comforts just in case we were delayed. In the past, I was a woman who over-packed for everything. In the afternoon of my life I am becoming very clear about what I need to take on my journey.
Anything is possible. Everything is waiting for you.