You cannot manage your own baggage unless you are able to unpack it.
To edit what you carry, you have to be able to be able to bring it forth, examine it, and then decide what to do with it. Does it go on the shelf, into the trash, or back in the bag? Can it be combined with anything else, re-contextualized, or polished in ways that allow it to be more useful?
We carry what we carry for many reasons. It may inform us, it may connect us to the past, it may be unconsidered, it may be what we need to share with others.
You can’t live in two places at once. To never unpack is to have to live in the past as well as in the present. The challenge is to be able to make smart decisions about what we carry with us, which is the difference between wisdom and baggage. Is choosing ignorance better than choosing to be weighted down? Another balance.
A person must have a certain amount of intelligent ignorance to get anywhere.
Beginner’s mind is great, without baggage and open to new possibilities, but do you really want your surgeon to live just in that place? Or even your plumber?
Without being able to unpack what we carry, we can be broken by our burden. Disassociative Identity Disorder is a problem of not being able to unpack. You can’t unknow what you know, even if you don’t know it consciously, but you can bury what you know in a way that breaks you.
“You can’t unpack here!” so many tell us. “We don’t want your stinky ugly problems here!” They want us unburdened so we can be what they consider to be properly responsive to them and their baggage, but they don’t want to have to help us go through our baggage. Our baggage reminds them of what they stuffed away in the corners of their own cases, the mouldy bits that they don’t want to have to unpack. So we have no place to unpack, to get all our shit into the light and repack it in a useful and lighter way.
The challenge isn’t between no baggage and too much baggage, the challenge is having the right amount of baggage, enough to carry the wisdom but not so much that it crushes you and the people around you. If you can never unpack, though, you can never get the balance right.
So much to unpack. But, as I have said before here, no one to say “you know, that would look better if…” Dump the stuff out of all the plastic bins that have been stored under the porch, in the basement, sort it and then pack it up again. Unpacking without air means not being able to process. Unpacking without sunlight means not being able to see. Unpacking alone means moving the mess about, not releasing it.
A burden shared is a burden halved. It’s when we can unpack and put ourselves around the room, or wear ourselves on our bodies that we begin to evaluate what we hold by utility, but as long as the crap is just stuffed in the baggage, it’s just a weight.
You cannot manage your own baggage unless you are able to unpack it. And you can’t really unpack it without help.