HEAVY LOAD (Kindness)

My first big-girl trip away from home occurred in my early forties (I'm a late starter). I was going to a week-long conference for work and had no idea what to pack. The brochure said "business casual" but, being a rookie traveler, I wasn't sure what that meant. So, I took most of what I owned and could afford to go out and buy. I left home with our largest suitcase, a garment bag, a carry-on and my purse. All loaded to capacity.

My husband, Rich, helped me with this load when I left but I was on my own when I reached my destination. I wasn't smart enough to figure out I could rent a push cart for a dollar so I strapped my carry-on to my giant suitcase, slung my ten-pound purse over my shoulder, hoisted my garment bag and headed for the shuttle. I began to realize I may have over-packed when the bus driver gave me a dirty look and put a "HEAVY LOAD" sticker on my suitcase.

I won't bore you with the details of getting most of my earthly possessions from the shuttle, through the hotel registration line and up to my room. Suffice it to say I wasn't savvy enough to realize a bellhop would take my baggage to the room (on a cart) for a couple of bucks.

When I finally reached my room (after walking out of one of my shoes in the hallway in front of two men in suits) I was ready to cry. I collapsed on the bed, exhausted. A few minutes later my roommate (a chipper little thing) came in with her carry-on and a small, stylish purse. "Where's the rest of your luggage?" I asked. "Oh, this is it," she chirped, glancing at my mountain of bags. "I pack light."

I share this story, not to encourage you to pack light (although that's always a good idea), but to remind you that the people you meet in life (including you and me) are all carrying (or lugging) baggage filled with their "stuff." Suitcases full of hurts and difficult memories; carry-ons packed with fears and insecurities; garment bags of losses, failures and regrets; purses (or wallets) crammed with habits and addictions. Some loads are bigger and more unwieldy than others but we've all got one.

So let's try not to add to each other's loads. Instead, let's come alongside and lend a hand with heavy burdens and help each other negotiate our "stuff" through life with a little less discomfort. Strive to connect with others and give simple gifts of patience, kindness, understanding and lots of grace. We need to consciously be aware of the people around us and add light to the lives that touch ours.

Let's pack a bit lighter, pick up our carry-on and start a new journey adding ease and sparkle to the lives of the people traveling with us. Have fun! 

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