We leave an imprint wherever we go. It’s up to us to decide whether it be positive or negative. And when words don’t flow, let your suitcases speak for you.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me, well, me. Is it the numerous health struggles I’ve had? My gender? My faith? Maybe my family? My profession? Maybe my identity is wrapped up in the Overseas label. Possibly my age?
Sometimes life just seems to flow with spontaneous ice cream outings, a good teaching day, time with friends, a convicting message at church. And other days, the ice cream is eaten in my room while I binge watch Gilmore Girls, I can only make it a half-teaching day, I communicate over text, and the Sunday message is listened through an iTunes recording of a CA pastor.
I’ve learned that everything can be good through balance, variety, and moderation. I try my very best to follow this mantra that has been so kind to me, and in some cases, proven to be true.
But some days it just doesn’t happen. I don’t get out of bed or I work a 12 hour day. I go to church 3 days a week or I don’t go for 3 weeks. I eat almost nothing or I eat everything I lay my eyes on.
I live in a world of extremes, and in sense, we all do. We all strive to find a balance that aligns with our beliefs, our culture, our family units, our professions , our passions, our dreams.
And in the process, we live. Not just live, but acquire baggage.
The term “baggage” has been a big theme of mine lately. Surely “baggage” does have negative connotations, but I see “baggage” to be more of what we all bring to the table. In other words, your baggage is what you can offer the world. Our figurative baggage shows who we have become and our literal baggage reflects our stage of life.
Think about it. What is the first bag that was relevant to us when we were born?
A diaper bag.
Our mothers and fathers pack our bag knowing what we need. They then carry it around because we do not have the independence or strength to carry it ourselves.
We then reach toddler-hood and begin the transition into wanting to pack our bags ourselves. A Mikey Mouse suitcase is filled with toys. Disregard the fact that we are going away for the night and need more than a train set. We yearn for independence and that drive is carried with us when we start school.
We may carry our sparkly bags ourselves but our teachers are the ones who makes sure we have what we need at the end of the day.
As we grow, our bags change. Pink turns to a nice maroon, bright blue turns to navy. What we may have rolled around is now carried on our backs. Eventually, papers fill the bag either in nice binders or are crumpled at the bottom.
A makeup bag is added. An electronics bag, too. We add a purse, purchase a wallet; get a key ring.
As we transition out of school, our bags change again. Backpacks turn to briefcases; shoulder-sling backs. We start to move away from our assigned family and venture to create our own identity in the world.
Whether it be to the neighboring town or to a neighboring country, we travel. We buy knick-knacks, add stickers, take pictures, acquire passport stamps. We meet new faces and learn new things.
The bags in our lives tell our stories.
Look in the box in the garage and you’ll find old photos from years past.
You’ll revisit the day you decided to marry your wife, the day you dressed up like idiots for a holiday skit. The day your son was born, the day he went off to school.
Look in the ballet bag.
You’ll find your first pair of dancing shoes.
Look in your college backpack.
You’ll find an old assignment.
As life goes on, our bags change. From a diaper bag to a portable oxygen machine, our life grows, blossoming into a beautiful thing, sweet to the taste and eventually sour to the sight.
We leave an imprint wherever we go. It’s up to us to decide whether it be positive or negative. And when words don’t flow, let your suitcases speak for you. Let what you have done, who you’ve become and what you’ve seen tell your story for you. It’s not in the action, but in the fruit.
The imprint you leave will reflect the life you lived.
At this point in my life, I’m speechless. I’m at a lost for words. I’m exhausted, energized, excited, hopeful and resilient. I can’t plan where I’ll be after May. I can’t speak from any other perspective than the one I have experienced. I can’t create expectations for others without telling them my hopes.
Who am I? You know what, I’m not sure yet. And tonight, as my dog is snoring and my brother and his friends are playing a board game with my mom, I’m thanking the Lord that I don’t know.
That’s for the next suitcase. Let me wear out the one I now have first.