Baggage Check: What are you holding on to?

Sure, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes there is, in fact, a deeper meaning.


Recently I was wandering the aisles of a discount retail store in search of a new duvet. I drove there specifically to seek out and acquire that one item. I found a duvet I liked and headed toward the registers when I got distracted by a set of rocks glasses. I needed some rocks glasses, so I picked them up. Then, I saw a cute platter.

You see where this is going. About twenty minutes later I was in the middle of the kitchen section with the duvet, rocks glasses, platter, three pots and a cat scratching post piled on the floor at my feet. At this point, I clearly needed a shopping cart.

Why was I robotically acquiring so many items I had not intended to purchase? It had to be more than the great selection and competitive prices. It may have had something to do with our consumption culture and the need to habitually consume products, food, entertainment, content, you name it. But that didn’t seem like the full explanation either. 

Then, I caught sight of a cake stand. You know, the kind you’d find in the pages of a lifestyle magazine adorned with a beautifully iced layer cake on a long, sunlit dining table. 

Stay with me. This isn’t really about shopping.

I used to have a cake stand. I used it once in a baking phase I went through to display a pretty, if lopsided, cake during the holidays one year. Then I stashed it away where it became the most annoying piece of kitchen collateral. It didn’t fit in a cabinet properly, but it collected too much dust above the cabinets. We moved it from place to place with my partner imploring me to let it go. “If you’re not going to use it, get rid of it,” he said more than once.

I refused. Staunchly, I stood by my cake stand because I had spent money on it. And because it was mine. And I didn’t want to be wasteful

So, back in the discount retail store kitchen aisle, I had a sudden, almost wince-inducing epiphany: I cannot throw out things that are mine because I spent money and it would be wasteful.

Hmm. 

I also realized that I was clinging to the cake stand as a symbol of me as a baker of beautiful cakes and hostess with the mostest. In real life, I am neither.

It all got me thinking, what else am I holding onto because it fits an image I have or had of myself? What old hobbies or outfits or appliances are stashed away to prove that once I was … or one day I will … ?

This is not to say we shouldn’t aspire to learn new skills or return to beloved pastimes. I wholeheartedly encourage exploration, but that’s a whole other topic. This is about the baggage we surround ourselves with, what we choose to hold onto, and how it may actually be holding us instead.

What are you holding onto? A pair of jeans that haven’t fit since high school? The feelings of contentment from a former romantic relationship? Skeins of yarn that never quite became a sweater? 

Maybe more importantly, how is that baggage holding onto you? Do you feel shame about gaining weight and not fitting your favorite old clothes? Regret over a lost love? Guilt about abandoned hobbies?

Part of becoming who you will be is acknowledging the you that you were. Yes, that’s a little new-agey, but think about it — you wouldn’t be where you are if you hadn’t been where you’ve been. Embrace that truth whether you are happy about it or not. And if you are dissatisfied, be honest with yourself about what baggage — physical or emotional — you’re carting around.

What’s holding you could be holding you back.