We all have our bags. We carry them or sometimes even drag them around. Most of the time, they’re practically invisible to everyone else. Little ones and overfilled, hard-to-zip ones. The worn out ones. Also the perfect sized ones to fit in your overhead compartment. The hundreds of different kinds of laughter and happy memories bulging-at-the- seams kind-of-bags. Some bags filled with dreams unfulfilled, hopes unmet, and obstacles not yet overcome. Insecurities, hard times, guilt, disappointment and failure, they have a bag too. They’re heavy. Really heavy. Resentment and jealousy, yep, they have a bag. The unplanned, unwelcomed parts of life that barged in and happened anyways have a bag. And don’t forget the parts of us that like to hide in our shadows during the day. There’s a bag for those hidden sides to us. Camouflaged bags.
One of my bags happens to be on the outside of my body. It makes it a little easier for me to acknowledge because it’s always there, visible, like a tattoo. I am pretty sure that mine is filled with the same insecurities, hopes, uncertainties, and failures that some of yours may contain. I think, at times, I could rival the great Houdini when it comes to hiding mine, much like you can hide yours. It seems odd that we should have to hide them. Especially when we realize that we all carry them. On the inside. On the outside. Some of us have mastered the art of smiling, even as the weight of our bags pull us down. Some of us are better at checking our bags or asking others for help loading, unloading or carrying on our bags.
I keep a very small bag, perhaps the size of an old coin purse. It’s always half-empty. I rarely open it, but when I do, pitiful thoughts escape like, “Nobody understands. Nobody really gets it. Nobody feels this way. Nobody has this. Or this. Why do I? Why am I so different?” I let those pity pennies, nickels and dimes escape. Then, I close this tiny pity purse up. I really don’t want any of your pity, either, probably just like you don’t want any of mine. Just like the loose change it holds, there’s never quite enough to buy anything worthwhile. A lot of useless pennies, mainly.
I think when we talk about our bags. Claim them, unzip them. And open them up so others know they exist, they become a little less heavy. Maybe it’s because it’s hard to pretend that they’re not there emotionally and physically weighing us down. Or maybe it’s hard to cram a bag into an invisible space hoping it will disappear. When it just won’t fit.
Sometimes we just need help. Really all the time, if we were more honest. Like kids. But it’s hard when we’ve been warned to not let our bags out of our sight. Trained to not trust others. Some who genuinely want to help, relate, let you know, “Hey, I have that bag too.” They may know a better, more graceful way to carry it. The problem is that I think we’ve all had a person that has taken one of our bags and carelessly ripped it open. Searching for something that was not theirs. Leaving all the contents out in the open for all to see. Bag thieves. It’s hard to learn to trust the next good intentioned person that comes along. It sometimes seems easier to just carry everything on our own, so we don’t get hurt. Again. Because we’re smart like that. Protecting ourselves. And even over-protecting ourselves too.
We all have our bags. I think we all need help carrying them around from time to time. No matter how strong we are. Or claim to be. No matter how spectacular we’ve become at hiding them. I’m more willing to let you carry my bags from time to time if you also let me help carry yours. There are love lessons on both sides. And it feels good to know what both sides feel like. The helper. And the helped. It’s pretty amazing working together to help lighten each other’s loads. It makes life less heavy.