“Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.”
It shames me a little to admit this but, yes, I first read this quote on the tag of Yogi tea bag. You know those moments when a coincidence is eerily on point? Well, this was one of those times. Earlier that day I had begun to pack up my things to move to my new apartment. I figured it would take–what, like an hour? O-ho no. Two hours later, my books alone took up all of the boxes I had set aside for the job. Before I started packing, I had this crazy perception of my stuff– that it wasn’t a lot. In my mind I could fit it into a suitcase and a couple bins. But the more I packed, the more stuff there seemed to be. And how to pack it all neatly? And make it all fit? That would require more patience and time than I was willing to devote.
I sat down on a suitcase full of sweaters (just sweaters), feeling completely overwhelmed. As I looked around at my stuff, I felt resentful that I was emotionally attached to all of it. The knitted scarf my friend made me six years ago, the diaries from when I was a kid, the lone earring I’ve been meaning to turn into a necklace, piles of cards given to me throughout the years. I felt the physical weight of my stuff pressing on my chest. Getting rid of it would bring me to tears but holding on to it would surely make me collapse. So I did what any sane person would do when faced with a tough decision– I walked away from it. Not to abandon it, but to remind myself of what a “light” life feels like. I didn’t even bring my bag, no cellphone, wallet, book, etc. I walked around the block and soaked in the lightness I felt without the burden of physical (and emotional) baggage.
When I returned I was ready to divide and conquer. Looking around at my room I figured maybe half of it would fit into my new apartment, some could stay with my parents and the rest would have to go. So I got to it.
When I was able to finally unwind with a cup of tea, I read the Yogi’s quote. I come from a mother who packs for an army when traveling overnight. I grew up with a room full of memories and memorabilia. I live in a city packed with restaurants, cultures, and people. Let’s just say I’m not inclined to living light. Save for when I backpacked across Mali with two friends, I lived light. I traveled light. I had to. But how to continue that light living in an environment that is overstimulating and overbearing?
In moments of desperation I want to throw away everything and start new. But I know myself– in a couple of decades I will sorely miss the journals I have kept since I could write. I will miss those cards that said such special things. I will miss the sweater my grandma gave my mother who gave it to me. These are physical representations of my past and they are harder to let go than the memories that sometimes just slip away. My relationships are my emotional grounding. And I would never dream of cutting myself free of them to chase “lightness.” No. I don’t believe living light requires us to purge our lives of anything unnecessary to survival.
“Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.” If we read this quote backwards, we’ll find where to begin. The “lightness” starts in your heart. From there, it will spread throughout your life.