Travel Light

Every few weeks empty your bag out. Mine’s one of those leather courier bags and it can hold a surprising amount. Organise whatever’s inside into three piles: essential, questionable and unnecessary. Do this quickly, instinctively, then leave the piles for a while and find something absorbing and unconnected to do (set an alarm on your watch or phone to remind you to think about your bag, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it). When you go back to your bag, and I’d leave it alone for at least a couple of hours, glance at each pile and see if anything seems out of place. It might not even seem in the wrong pile – there may just be a feeling about it that makes it stand out a little, or draw your eye without you knowing why.
         If anything does, sit down and give it some time.  If there’s more than one thing write them all down and think about them in turn. But try doing it like this: close your eyes and focus on the thing that seems out of place (or the next one on the list). Let your mind drift and your thoughts open out. Let whatever feelings and thoughts you become aware of linger a while, and get a sense of them, a feeling for them. I find this is a bit like smelling the wax and the smoke after a candle’s been blown out. If something comes to you, an image, a phrase, a memory or a metaphor, anything really, ask yourself: why am I thinking about that thing in this way? If you’re lucky, something inside you will suggest an answer.
         I usually find these answers weird but strangely helpful. They help me understand why I’ve been carrying something around, as if that thing were a place marker for a thought or a feeling which hadn’t become explicit. I’d been in touch with the thought or feeling implicitly, less consciously, and maybe it had been an unnoticeable distraction, absorbing my energy, or lending a bias to my thoughts and actions without me realising.
        Often I’ll find myself moving things from the questionable to the unnecessary pile; sometimes to the essential one. If I place it with the unnecessary things I sometimes feel a sense of something easing up, and if it goes to the essential pile I somehow feel more together.
         Repack your bag with just the essential things and the next time you go out leave everything else behind. Maybe when you get home again you shuffle things around a bit but it’s interesting to see what you end up getting rid of or storing somewhere out of the way.
         Sometimes, too, it doesn’t feel any different at all. The whole thing can feel like a waste of time, I throw everything back into my courier bag and listen to some loud music. That happened to me this morning. I found myself playing Daft Punk … which didn’t seem like an obvious choice. Maybe I’m distracted by what’s going on at Dodo.
         If you’re interested in any of this some of it is based on Gene Gendlin’s focusing and Sarah Wood’s thoughts about auto-archiving.

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