Monday, August 29, 2011

Integrity and starting fresh

Many times - maybe more than that - in the past months, people have encouraged me to consider making a fresh start. They have meant two things by this: 1) sometimes it is more trouble than it is worth to continue something and 2) sometimes starting fresh seems like a way to escape painful memories. I have responded in different ways, sometimes by explaining why I was holding on, and sometimes just saying that I don't believe there is any such thing as a fresh start. We all choose to carry some baggage into our future.

People are reluctant to carry their baggage, and furious when airlines lose their luggage. Think about that for a moment. If you don't want to arrive on vacation without the resources you have packed, why would you walk into the future without everything you have gained through experience - especially the kinds of experience that cost you something? The baggage I took on my last holiday was a little the worse for wear - it had some bumps, some stiff spots, and it was definitely hard to manoeuvre up long stairways. It was also a little too heavy for me to carry comfortably.

But that particular case is also covered with memories of two different trips to Paris. On both those trips, I lugged it up many, many metro steps. It was not entirely convenient. And now it holds more than the clothes and stuff I pack each vacation. I will be reluctant to replace it although I think I will finally have to let it go after the handle gave out on the way home last week. I think I'll buy another red suitcase, and I might even add a maple leaf sticker here and there though. That way, I'll get to carry more of the intangibles that case has held for me.

How much more do I need what I have experienced in eight years of learning and striving and hoping? I need every tear and every triumph and I need them equally. They make me who I am, and if I were to pick and choose only what I thought would be useful, I would probably be no more accurate than I am when packing for holidays. It's hard to tell what I will need on my journey, so I will pack extra and I will carry it myself.

My integrity - my strength and my flexibility - require that I keep moving and that I accept carrying my own baggage as part of the price of the trip. As we go, I will let go of this and that and replace them with experiences acquired along the way. But most of what I have packed for this trip, I will take care to keep with me all the way. Because you never know - and neither do I - when the weather will change, or the road will loop unexpectedly.


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