Some years ago I spent a lot of money; more than I intended on a set of luggage. I saw it as an investment that would serve me well as I was travelling to far away places. As I returned from Dubai and retrieved my suitcase from the luggage carousel I noticed it was tracking behind me weirdly as I wheeled along and I discovered a wheel was missing. Just gone.
I called the luggage store and they said “not our problem, call the manufacturer”. I called the manufacturer and they said “not our problem, normal wear and tear.”
Much like the emotional baggage we all carry around that’s the subject of sucky memes “we all carry emotional baggage – the secret is to find someone who cares enough to help you unpack” and so forth, our emotional baggage is something we have invested in sometimes at great cost and is subject to normal wear and tear.
I loved my new suitcase so I went on-line and found a replacement wheel in an obscure town hiding in a midwestern state far away. When it came in the mail, I operated on my suitcase unzipping the lining carefully inserting the new not-quite-matching wheel into the slot and hoped the fix would make it all good again.
This past week my suitcase of emotional baggage was tossed up in front of me, burst wide open and just as if a piece of aluminum frame had sprang up and speared me, I was deeply hurt. It was as if all the stuff thrown into the suitcase had fallen out and needed closer inspection to see if it was really needed for the trip or if it was in fact contraband; the stuff that doesn’t really belong to me but I’ve embraced and packed around. “Did you pack this yourself?” is the question at customs as we enter a foreign country. “Did I pack this myself?” Yes, I did. The emotional baggage in my suitcase is mine.
Sometimes stuff happens in our luggage when we travel. My colleague bemoaned the fact that a bottle of nail polish broke open and ruined everything in her suitcase and I thought to myself, “aren’t you smart enough to pack that separately in a plastic non-leaking bag?” Guess not. As I talk about my personal emotional baggage, my friend thinks to herself, “aren’t you smart enough to walk away from that?” Guess not.
With the new wheel securely inserted in my suitcase I continued to travel and several trips later I was in Portland and felt the lurch-limp of my suitcase behind me as I tugged it along. I turned around to find the wheel still attached but listing sadly to the side trying to fall off and roll away on the famous Portland airport carpet. I picked up my suitcase and carried it like a wounded comrade through the various checkpoints and airports until I got it safely home.
Each time my emotional baggage is opened I try to sort through it and discard the contents; to clear it out and move on but more often than not, end up re-folding some and packing it away because I’m human and filled with hope for change that I know won’t happen. But I pack for it just in case.
I ordered another wheel and continued to travel nearly monthly with my suitcase. It was easy to simply replicate my order and get another wheel although I didn’t gallop through airports suitcase following along with the same confidence I originally had. I stopped and checked and checked again to make sure I had both wheels. I used luggage carts to ferry my suitcase around hoping it would be ok, and preparing for the just-in-case.
The emotional baggage zipped open this week gives me the “oh-no, I don’t want this to happen” feeling as when I looked at the suitcase I had invested so much in and saw the other wheel missing as it rode the carousel around to find me.
At what point do we stop investing in the emotional baggage we drag along behind us? At what point do we just invest in a new suitcase?
I don’t know. I just ordered another wheel.