The short film “Baggage” by Ivan Kander is the story of a special kind of baggage counter. People line up at this counter to check in their emotional issues.
There is the woman whose partner cheated on her after six months, the man with a messy divorce, the girl who checks in the latest “walk of shame,” the man who is trying to get rid of his paranoia, the woman whose husband left her for a “pole dancer,” and the guy who—once again—is trying to get rid of his anger.
These people line up here over and over again to check in their latest baggage. For a while they feel lighter—until the next time they have something to check in, because it appears to be too heavy to carry.
One man is in line, however, to reclaim his luggage. Why would he want to do that?
He explains to the young woman in line behind him that checking our baggage means we are checking everything in. It is “like eating ice-cream but it doesn’t taste sweet, just cold and flavourless.”
He says to the employee behind the counter, who does not let him reclaim his baggage, “I met someone who was perfect. It did not work because I checked my baggage. I checked it ALL. Taking the weigh out of everything makes it so worthless. The nice things she did for me were all lost on me because I was weightless. I had nothing to give her in return.”
Rather than “checking” our emotional baggage, getting rid of it, suppressing it, we can understand it. Our baggage does not need to weigh us down. All our past experiences brought us to where we are now. We are weighed down by it because we believe it is heavy. We believe we cannot carry it. Understanding it and embracing it is like buying a new suitcase with wheels underneath. Changing how we feel about what happened and learning from each experience makes our baggage lighter. We can pull it behind us effortlessly. It becomes a gift instead of a burden.
Our baggage is part of our story. Checking our feelings means building a shield around our heart. It robs us of fully living life. Instead of starving our shadows, let’s become conscious of them and accept them as part of who we are, whether we feel anger, shame, sadness, rejection or abandonment. By bringing it in, we heal and transform the heaviness. Our baggage becomes light.
We become able to tell our story without the emotional charge. What used to feel heavy can feel like a great gift when we have done our work. There are no “good” or “bad” experiences. They don’t mean anything until we give them a particular meaning. We can give them a different meaning at any point. We can love all of our experiences, love all of who we are.
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