The last couple of weeks I have discussed your story, who you will be in your story, who you will have by our side through your life’s journey, and discovering who you are. Part of discovering who you are is not only understanding where you have come from and your past experiences, it is understanding what you have taken away from those experiences and how you have internalized the impact of those experiences. How you experience life’s events effects how will experience your present and future. Those experiences, whether positive or negative, you carry around with you everyday in what I like to call your baggage.
We all have baggage that we carry around with us. The baggage consists of past experiences, preconceived notions, fears, apprehensions, etc. Your baggage, whether you realize it or not, effects so much of your present even though it comes from the past. Depending on how you internalize the experiences of your past will determine whether your baggage becomes heavier or lighter. It effects how you interact with people, it effects the decisions that you make and it effects how you see the world around you. The troubling thing about your baggage is that you lug it around day after day and you don’t even know what’s in it or realize that it is getting heavier and heavier. You have come to accept that carrying the baggage around is a way of life not realizing that if you just opened the baggage and see what was inside, you could get rid of a lot of it and make our load a lot lighter. I believe the fear of opening the baggage is similar to the fear of opening Pandora’s box. You fear that by opening the baggage to analyze it’s contents will reopen wounds, unleash the unknown, and force you to face the parts of yourself that you have long buried.
Think of your baggage like the chains that Jacob Marley carries around with him in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Marley states to Ebenezer Scrooge that “I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link and yard by yard. I garnered it on my own free will and by my own free will I wore it.” Marley does not feel the full weight of his chains or baggage until he is dead. But Scrooge on the other hand, lugs around heavy chains / baggage and he doesn’t even realize it, like many of us. It isn’t until Scrooge is faced with meeting the three Christmas Ghosts that he begins to see how his baggage became so heavy. Scrooge’s meeting with the Ghost of Christmas Past, allows him to see the young boy he once was, he sees the decisions that he made that lead him to where he is today. He begins to see but not yet fully understand how those decisions impacted the Scrooge of present day. When Scrooge meets with the second ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Present, he begins to see more clearly how his past experiences have effected his current situation. He begins to see how his current attitude and perceptions were shaped by the young man you used to be and the experiences he went through. He also gets a glimpse, which many of us do not get, into what other people have in their baggage. He sees the life of the Cratchits and realizes that with as much stuff as they could put in their baggage, they chose to fill their baggage with love of family and ability to live in the present, knowing that the future is uncertain. When Scrooge meets with the third and final ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, he realizes that the future is partially written. If he stays the course he is currently on, the future will be inevitable. It is at this time he realizes that he and only he has the ability to change what is in his baggage, what chains he shall wear and how he chooses to live his life going forward.
We all have a lesson to learn from Scrooge. We are not provided the benefit of seeing our past, present and future play out in front of us in a matter of three hours the eve before Christmas but we do have the next best thing, our memory. We need to take time to open our baggage, no matter how scary it may appear, and look inside. Go through what you have been lugging around with you for so long that you have forgotten why it is even in there in the first place. Understand why you have been carrying around this stuff in your baggage for so long and determine if you still need to carry it around with you. Once you understand what is in your baggage, you will better understand yourself. You will understand why you see the world the way you do, why you have the feelings and emotions that you do in certain situations and you will be better to grow moving forward. Once you lighten your load, you will be better equipped to understand what others could be carrying in their baggage and maybe, just maybe, you will be able to help them lighten their load as well.