Sunday Scribbling - With Baggage
It’s how I like to arrive – with the baggage I set off with. I’ve been parted from my baggage twice in my life – once in Holland (and then the airline managed to find it and have it arrive at my lodgings before I got there), and most recently on my trip to the U.S. There I was, standing at carousel 6 (or was it 16, or was it 8? – It’s all a bit of a blur now. I had just flown 14 hours) at San Francisco airport. Fellow passengers dragged, hauled, pulled their baggage from the circling, ever-circling rubber conveyer. One by one, they left, and I stood, and I stood. The final few cases remained. Lonely, looking like they’d been here before. No-one wanted to claim them. Nothing about them remotely resembled my pair of black canvas cases, so there hadn’t been any accidental mix-up. I was sure. Within 15 minutes, there were just two of us. An equally tired, equally despairing-looking man. Did you transfer at JFK? I asked. Mmm. From Italy. I nodded, knowingly. Apparently, my 2-hour transfer time hadn’t been long enough for my cases to make it from my first flight to my second, either.
Had I followed conventional wisdom and packed a few essentials in my hand-baggage? If you consider books, pens and notebooks to be essential, yes. Did I have toothpaste? Underwear? Deodorant? Spare T-shirt? – No, no, no, no, (in that order). I did have my money (hurrah), credit-card (hurrah). You remember the despair? It lifted very quickly. A sense of acceptance, a Que sera, sera attitude arrived in its place, and I found a calm quietness in me as I went to check in with the lost luggage people. We’ll send your luggage on to your hotel when it arrives. I noticed that WHEN. It was so comforting. There was no IF in it. They said WHEN. Ok, I thought, I’ll trust that.
Hotel check-in. I told them my baggage would be arriving later. The sceptical glance from the hotel clerk said it all. How naïve is that? They provided toothbrush and toothpaste. My room was comfortable. I read. I wrote my ten gratitudes. I prepared to sleep. That was easy. It just involved taking off my clothes. Well, it was a warm room. I didn’t actually need pyjamas, did I? My thoughts before I went off to sleep ran thus:
Maybe it’s meant to be. You wanted this journey to be an adventure, yet you packed two big suitcases like it was any other holiday. Maybe you’re not meant to be traveling trammeled with all that stuff. Maybe you can let it all go. Maybe it’s just what you need – to be travelling light and unburdened with possessions. If it wasn’t for my collection of SoulCollage cards tucked into one of those cases, I would have been ready to just let it all go at that stage, and then I remembered that I have scans of all my cards on my computer at home, so they could be reconstructed easily enough. Ok. That thought allowed me to accept the baggage is gone, gone, gone, and that is a good thing. I fell asleep with a plan to buy a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, a couple of t-shirts, and a pair of sandals to travel with.
The 4 a.m. call jolted me out of such a deep sleep. I’d been travelling for oh… my brain was too tired to calculate, but something like a full day. The call? “This is the front desk. Your luggage has been delivered. …Two pieces. …Yes. You can wait ‘til morning to collect it. Sleep well.”
That’s what I find so often in life. It’s not so important to actually let go of the baggage as it is to be willing to let it go. Even though I travelled on with all my “stuff”, it didn’t burden me, and it didn’t matter if I lost any of it again. Now, I hope the next time I travel, I’ll pack lighter, and I will really not worry about whether I arrive with or without my baggage.
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