packingI hate packing.

I feel like I am a pretty good decision-maker until a day arrives when I need to pack for a trip and then all of my best decision making skills fly right out the window .  On those days you can find me in the middle of what looks like the wreckage of a natural disaster, clutching articles of clothing to my chest and most likely crying in frustration.

Oh the anguish of trying to discern what pants will be most comfortable in a climate different from my own, how many layers I might require should it get a little chilly, and if there will come a moment where I regret having not packed something more or less casual than my selections at that moment.

Then you add to this that I am, often, influenced by my mood when it comes to my dress and so the possibility that I may be in a drastically different mood once I’ve reached my destination than I was when I packed my bag must be taken into consideration. There must be allowances for options. I want options as difficult as it is to decide on these clothes to begin with. I’m probably certifiable.

After all is said and done and many tears are shed, eventually, I have resolved or resigned myself to a travel wardrobe that will at that time be piled high on my bed in a giant heap. Because I start the ordeal of packing two weeks before my trip, I reach this phase approximately four days before my departure and enter into part two, which is making it all fit in a carry-on bag.

My father is responsible for my determination to travel with only a carry-on bag. He is a man and he will wear the same thing everyday if he has to in order not to have to either pay for additional luggage or cart it around  busy airports. When we have traveled together he’s insisted that none of us needs more than what a small bag will hold and in a fashion that would put even Tim Gunn to shame declares that we must, “Make it work.” And I have made it work on every trip I’ve taken in the last four years, but not without this same struggle each time.

Wouldn’t it be worth it, you might ask, to pay to check my luggage and avoid the inevitable meltdown? I’ve wondered the same thing myself and after thinking about it I realize that though there is this process to struggle through, I’m  happier in the long run when I travel light.

Isn’t this a good life lesson?

It seems to me sometimes we pack our emotional bags to bulging with every wound, every disappointment and every trauma we’ve ever experienced and we pay dearly to carry all of it with us so that when we forge new territories that leave us feeling shaky or a little vulnerable, we can throw these things on like outfits or maybe even armor in some cases.

Our expectation is that keeping these things close to us will be protection from further damage, but the truth is that lugging all of that emotional baggage around slows us down and holds us back.

We can’t change the past but we can admit that it no longer exists. You can’t step a toe back into yesterday or last year, they are gone. And tomorrow hasn’t been born yet, it doesn’t exist either. We are missing an awful lot of today doing so much packing to prevent the past and prepare for the future.

I find that, at least for me, joy is more prevalent in my life when I pack light. It’s ok to arrive at your destination and work through having to wear a skirt on a day when you’re in the mood for pants or having to decide to be brave in a challenging situation because you’ve left your fear of rejection sweater at home.