“Have you repacked yet? Or is this the first pass?” My husband often asks as I am staring down at the items in our suitcase. My mind is mulling over what needs to come with us, what I want and then items that would be nice to have.
The phrase that runs through my head as I pack and repack for a trip comes from the film “Spaceballs: The Movie.” At one part, the main characters are walking across a desert after their flying Winnebago spaceship crashed. Captain Lonestarr and his sidekick, Barf, are carrying a large piece of luggage, that appears to be on the heavy side. The captain, tired of carrying the box, stops and pops open the lid to reveal the largest hairdryer in the world.
“I said, take only what you need to survive,” he says. To which the fed up Princess Vespa replies, “It’s my industrial strength hair dryer. (A bit louder) And I can’t live without it.” Captain Lonestarr tells her that the fairy tale is over and welcomes her to real life.
Whether it is an overnight trip into the city, a weekend get away or even an extended trip, I always wonder if I am packing the “industrial strength hair dryer” and just need a dose of reality. What do I need to survive, and what do I just want because I think it will give me the home away from home comfort?
A few years ago, I heard a snippet of wisdom along these lines during John Tesh’s nightly radio show (don’t ask and don’t judge). According to life coach and author Martha Beck, there are two people in the world: ones that gather and hold on to everything just in case you may need it and the ones that trust they’ll find exactly what they will need at the right time. Clearly, Princess Vespa falls into the first category and I am aiming for the second.
So, how does one determine what goes and what stays, whether it is on a trip or in life? Well, according to the authors of the book “Repacking Your Bags,” it comes down to purpose. Richard Leider and David Shapiro say that “It’s clear that every life, however it is lived, needs to have certain elements for an individual’s satisfaction and happiness.”
It is the purpose of the trip (or of one’s life) that dictates what to pack and the discipline needed to realize what to leave behind. When it comes to stuff, decide how much baggage you are wiling to carry and then decide what stays and what goes.”
Leider and Shapiro says, “It comes down to a series of trade-offs. What are you willing to trade in one area of your life to get what you want in another? The unpacking process is a matter of reviewing what you have and considering ach item in light of the trade-offs you have to make to keep it.”
This is not the first time I have taken inventory of my life, household items or the “hair dryers” in my luggage. Perhaps as we go into spring and think about wiping the grime off our stoves, perhaps we should take a moment to discover what it is we are holding on to for a level of comfort and what we can let go to reach the next stage in life.