Unpack Your Bags


A friend sent me an article about deal breakers in dating, since she’s getting back into the scene after a divorce. It included a mile-long list some guy made on a dating site to weed out the women who have behaviors he finds too annoying to overlook. If your baggage includes addictions, or any sort of religious affiliation, then don’t bother messaging him. There were over eighty items on his list, revealing his shallow nature more than anything else.

A psychologist commenting on the list suggested a timeline for presenting baggage to a prospective soul mate. If yours includes an ex, kids and alimony, that should be disclosed up front. Childhood wounds and more recent regrets can wait until some emotional intimacy has been established.

I was troubled by the psychologist’s designation of previous relationships and children as ‘baggage’, but I guess our current culture defines any heavy lifting as possible deal breakers. People seem to be looking for a bargain – maximum gain at minimal cost. That might be frugal at the store, but does it apply to relationships? Does it apply anywhere we are required to show up?

I like the concept of emotional baggage. It provides a portrait of the invisible effects we lug around from place to place, year after year. Gathered over time and stuffed into hidden compartments, these collections accumulate mass. Dragging them around can deplete our energies. These heavy loads diminish our ability to help others with their burdens. We might end up posting a mile-long list of deal breakers.

Creative work provides the perfect valet for the task of lightening our load. Song writing, poetry and painting are obvious conduits for matters of the heart and soul. These are just a few of the channels for processing our internal lives. I’ve seen the simpler tasks of journaling, blogging, knitting, and even doodling provide a proper outlet for some. In the end, it doesn’t matter what we do to unpack our bags, as long as we show up to do it.

2 comments on “Unpack Your Bags

  1. It is strange, tragic in fact, the way popular culture tends to lump past relationships and children as “baggage.” It could be argued that these connections are the very fabric of our lives. Human beings are hard-wired to thrive in community, not in isolation. Each of us is our past, present, and future–the whole package. To deny the past is as ludicrous as to deny that we were ever children or adolescents. We are whom we are today because of our past choices, good and bad, wise and unwise as those choices may seem to us.

    So people out there who are seeking a soul mate, remember to embrace the whole person. We are each a work in progress.

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