You all thought I was going to write about gun legislation didn’t you. I’m not. I’m trying to look at packing as a metaphor. It seems like a better approach than looking upon it as a chore.
We use the term baggage a lot to talk about all the “stuff” we carry with us through life. I suspect the reference is effective in part because so many people tend to over pack. In the era of weighed checked luggage where we pay $25 + per bag, that overpacking issue gets tackled head on.
I think about the ways people have packed in the past. Traveling by ship with steamer trunks is a little different than flying with a carry on tote. On the other side of it we’re going the distance for a weekend when back then it could be a month or more before even arriving at your destination. I look at old movies and watch actors skip down the road swinging those old suitcases. I’ve seen those suitcases in thrift stores. They’re tiny. They’re heavy!
Of course the actor has an empty suitcase, if it’s not a piece of plastic painted to look like one. But even back in those days most people had the clothes on their backs, one set to wash and one for church on Sunday. There were no shoes in those suitcases. If there were books it was probably just one small Bible. Jewelry for common people wasn’t particularly abundant either. I wonder how often they changed their underwear?
Those small suitcases (and this goes for carry on bags) are an issue as well. I’m not a small girl. I’m 5’10″ and grossly overweight. For any one piece of clothing I get into my bag my daughter (5’8″ and fit) or my son (weighing under 100 lbs) can pack 2 or 3 of the same. Either of them can wear vintage clothing (although with my daughter it’s tougher for the height and shoulders). It speaks to that old fashioned luggage, people were smaller. I’m lucky if I can wear a vintage hat. ($25 to check that hatbox Ma’am.)
Then there is the issue of seasonal travel. The Twin Cities in Minnesota has the largest temperature range for its population density in the world. Any time of year the “average” temperatures give or take 20 degrees. It’s hard to pack one outfit that’s reasonable for both 75 degrees and 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Temps in that entire range are common any day in 6 months out of the year, and possible in all of them. (Well maybe our highest temperature ever in January was 69 degrees but our lowest in July was 24!) When traveling to multiple climate zones (or a crazy place like Minnesota) layers are essential and that means less room in the luggage. A sweater takes up a lot more space than a swimsuit!
I’ve done enough traveling that I do pack well and can travel lightly. I have trouble lifting or carrying a bag that weighs as much as that 50 lbs excess baggage limit. Still I’m often amazed at what I choose to include on any given trip. How much of my “good intentions” packing (sure I’ll work on that project while I’m away) do I ever really get to do? Other than reading on the plane, do I find myself reading in hotel rooms? How much of what I run to Target to grab before I go would be just as easy to pick up once I arrive?
I’m still reaching for the metaphor. I’m not sure what packing says about me, about us. I do feel better about doing it. Packing as a meditation……….
Thanks for listening.