It’s one thing to know we need to shed the extra baggage
but it is quite another thing to actually do it.
Most often I do not have any idea what my next blog will address. There isn’t any grand list of ideas and themes. Each week I remain open to what I read, hear or observe for ideas and lessons. This week’s blog “came to me” from a local news story and an NPR interview.
Early one morning, a local Jacksonville, FL news station aired a segment about the proper use of backpacks by school kids. You know the picture: The ubiquitous overstuffed satchels into which boys and girls dutifully place everything they could conceivably need (and not need) during the day, strap it to their straining bodies, and then trudge along bent at 90 degrees to support the beast on their backs. Some may be hefting a weight that is easily 20 or 25% of their own body weight. Too much stuff!
Video recommendation for the week:
Later that same day, I heard Cheryl Strayed discuss her book (and movie), Wild: Form Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Interestingly enough, I tuned in just as Strayed recounted a story about her monster backpack. She had found that once she loaded it she could not lift it. Again, like our school kids, she had jammed in way too much stuff. Here is the story in her words on an Oprah segment:
Years ago I read an instructive book by Richard Leider titled Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Good Life. We often carry—just like our school kids and Strayed—far too much stuff on our backs. It’s one thing to know we need to shed the extra baggage but it is quite another thing to actually do it.
How much stuff do you tote on your shoulders? Too much? What can you set aside? Are you toting someone else’s stuff? Let’s take the recommendations for a safe backpack weight as metaphors for our baggage.
- One recommendation holds that a backpack should only be about 10% of the child’s weight.
- While we can’t measure (on a scale) the problems, trials and tribulations we tote around on our back, if we listen to our bodies, we know when we have overtaxed ourselves. Feeling physically drained, emotionally spent, and socially isolated? These might be signals to examine the baggage. What can we jettison? Are we carrying old baggage? Have we taken on burdens from others? Who might be able to help us lighten our load?
- There is a healthy way to pack and carry the weight.
- Proper straps and equal weight distribution (using both shoulders) can help our backpacker sustain the strain. Is the weight distributed equally in the pack and on the shoulders? Multiple-compartment backpacks allow us the opportunity to distribute the burdens. How do we disperse the weight we carry? Where do you feel the strain—in your back, shoulders, or neck? How can you reposition? Can someone help carry the load? What assumptions do you make about the baggage? How do you know those assumptions are correct?
- Overstuffed backpacks can lead to fatigue.
- Just like our school kid needs to unburden herself by removing the beast from her back, we too need to set aside our baggage, if only to catch our breath and rest. Even in those times when the baggage belongs to us and we cannot get rid of it, how can we take a break? What can we do to catch our breath, gather our thoughts and allow ourselves to reconsider what we have taken on the journey? Maybe, instead of packing for a week, all we need is a lighter overnight bag. What can you safely remove? What is a non-negotiable priority that you have to take along? What is not such a priority? (Remember, if everything is a #1 priority, then nothing is #1. Be mindful about setting your priorities.)
Take a moment today and examine your “backpack.”
Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.
(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.