Traveling light through Life makes it simpler, meaningful and beautiful.
Our daughter Aanchal left today for studying at grad school. When the cab arrived to take her to the airport, and we were wheeling her two suitcases along the driveway, I was struck by the spiritual depth of the moment. Here was a child who had grown up with us in the past 22 years. And now, she leaves just carrying two suitcases of stuff to start a new Life. That’s it! Just two suitcases, a mobile phone and a laptop.
Interestingly, this event is happening a second time in our Life. In September 2008, our son Aashirwad too left similarly, packing his worldly belongings into two suitcases. He still lives out of them.
I believe the restriction placed by airlines that you may only check-in two suitcases, without having to pay for excess baggage, is a brilliant way of encouraging minimalism. Consider this: What if each of us just had only two suitcases worth of stuff, a mobile phone, a laptop and a passport, as our Life’s assets? Wouldn’t Life be simpler? And more meaningful, more beautiful? Nothing extra to take care of, nothing extra to protect and nothing really to cling on to?
For almost 7 years now, Vaani and I have been practicing minimalism in our own way. Every six months we chuck away stuff that we have not used in the previous six months. This excludes our passports or any important academic, professional or statutory documentation. And this week, we get ready to get rid of more stuff from our Life. At around 50, we believe we want to travel light for the rest of our Life before we fade away into the sunset. Yes, we have a moral responsibility of earning enough to be able to repay people that we owe money to. Apart from being able to do this, we have no interest in acquiring or accumulating wealth and assets of any kind. We have learnt that Life’s pretty simple. If you can live with what you need in two suitcases, and are forever ready to go when your name is called, I feel it is a great, magical, state to be in.
Life is like an airline company – you pay a price for excess baggage!
A conversation with a visitor at home on how airlines “mercilessly” charge passengers for excess baggage got me thinking. I believe that all of us carry excess baggage, not just when we fly, but in Life as well. We do end up paying a huge price for our excess baggage, but we don’t quite learn from our experience.
There are three forms of excess baggage we saddle our lives with:
- Emotional Baggage: Memories pertaining to past hurts, insults, events, experiences. Some of these are heart-wrenching and debilitate us, causing deep anguish, pain and untold suffering.
- Physical Baggage: More than 50 % of the stuff that fills our homes__furniture to clothes to documents to kitchenware to shoes to display-ware__are the ones we have not used in months and, most often, in years. So, our homes are overloaded with ‘waste and clutter’ which can be useful for others when given away.
- Imaginary Baggage that never was and that never may well be: This is the baggage of worry and anxiety. Of things and events that you fear will happen to you and because of which you are unable to live free and in the moment!
All three forms of excess baggage must be set down to journey through Life in peace. The second form, the physical baggage, may still be reconcilable. As in, if you have a large living space, you can afford to accumulate, save or hoard the stuff that you don’t always use. Even so, Vaani and I follow a simple principle: we don’t hold on to anything – anything – that we have not used for over 6 months, except our passports! But the baggage falling in categories 1 and 3 are just not worth carrying. In a way, Life is pretty much like an airline company. You sure do end up paying a huge price for traveling with heavy, excess baggage! In a Life context, that price is the inability to live in and experience the magic of the present moment, of the now!
All that you need to live is what you have in the now. Ask yourself what past memories are causing an inexplicable heaviness in you? Ask yourself what worries take your mind away from attending to the now? Burn your heaviness away by giving the present all your attention. Make a call, give a hug, simply forgive__do whatever that will bring you into the present. Stop worrying about what will or may happen in the future. Life is here and never in the future, just as it is not in the past! Most important, learn, and keep relearning, to offload all your excess baggage and travel light.