Last week was a travel week and, as is often the case, the adventure took me through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest, if not one of the world’s most sprawling, terminals. Getting from one concourse to another requires an escalator trip into what a recorded voice informs you (quite dramatically) is The Transportation Zone. The long descent puts you in front of an automated subway system that whisks you to another terminal. Then, you take another escalator up to the gates.
While leaving The Transportation Zone I couldn’t help notice that nearly everyone was carrying something—not a particularly penetrating observation because, after all, it is an airport. There were backpacks, shopping bags, boxes, messenger bags, luggage of all sorts.
Travel requires lots of stuff, I concluded.
Even if we’re not traveling, it’s amazing what we carry with us: wallets, purses, briefcases, backpacks. I used to have a co-worker who joked that her extra large purse contained one of everything imaginable, although I never tested her on that.
And what about what we “mentally” carry with us everyday? Perhaps you hold memories of those you care about, or that extra burst of happiness from the raise you just received.
But do you ever bring anger, impatience, hurt, or jealousy along? This “baggage,” as some refer to it, often consists of the events or issues that no longer serve us, that tie us to the past even when we’re trying to live in the present. Disappointment, judgments, self-righteousness, hatred, and condemnation all require effort to carry on a daily basis.
The story is told of two monks returning to their monastery. They were traveling on foot and came upon a beautiful maiden who needed to cross a muddy creek. The senior monk offered help, lifted her on his shoulders and the three travelers set out for the other side. The monks parted company with the woman and continued their journey to the monastery. The younger monk was silent, in complete disbelief that the other monk could have so easily forgotten his vows. Finally, he could stand it no longer and angrily addressed the elder monk. “How could you have talked to that woman, much less carry her across the stream? This violates our sacred promises,” he cried. The senior monk paused, then quietly said, “I put the woman down after we crossed the creek. It seems that you’re still carrying her.”
We’ve all crossed many muddy streams and carried our own maidens with us. Some of us have gently placed them safely on the side of the creek and have continued, in freedom, with our own journeys. But sometimes putting the maiden down isn’t easy, as the younger monk found out.
So, what maidens do you still carry?
What baggage could you leave behind?
Travel light. Carry love!