Travel has taught me many things, things that I value as much as the experiences that have played teacher to my soul. To travel lightly is perhaps the most profound cliche ever spoken. When one has found the way to travel lightly through this journey, one has found treasure indeed. Most of what we carry is unneeded or even absurdly impractical.
My first time in China I checked two large bags and carried on as much as I could hold. I worried over details and strategized for every contingency. Now, I laugh at that girl who gathered things as a shield against the unknown. How clever and sophisticated she felt.
Yet it took more than one trip, or two or three, to teach my heart to travel lightly. My body wasn’t the issue. It was that nagging voice, that fear of being without, that forced me, cajoled me, pleaded with me to carry more and leave nothing slightly important behind. You might need . . . an extra sweater . . . or four? In summer? In Beijing?
My most recent trip to China, I packed everything in a small carry on and took just my purse on board. I’ve learned that only my passport and a credit card are necessary, and even those can be replaced.
The things we cling to, we don’t need. In fact, the things we need most can’t be held or packed. They travel with us in a different way - in memory and expertise and ability and emotion. Leaving things behind doesn’t lessen our life, it enriches it.
How much time is sacrificed with family or friends or living on purpose because we had to manage the debt created by things that we didn’t really need and only barely wanted. What if we made room. What if we eliminated the excess and discovered what is necessary to be warm, cozy, full and safe.
It’s less than we think.
Less isn’t less inviting. It is more. I love the simplicity of just enough, which often results in a feeling of more than enough.
And when travelling, you pack for where you are going. When we understand that eternity is our destination then our focus shifts to collecting only what we can take with us. Things don’t follow us into the hereafter. Relationships, good deeds, love given and love received. Those are the currencies of eternity.
So, travel lightly. Make room here on earth so you have space to build for eternity.