For years I had carried around a very large purse (a “portable CVS” as my mother used to call it) brimming with everything from matches to a first aid kit. Included were packets of Cottonelle, Clorox wipes, a sewing kit, pencil sharpeners, a fairly large bottle of water, a flash drive, a phone, phone charger, hand lotion, tampons, multiple lipsticks, tissues, safety pins, a notebook for writing down random thoughts, a thesaurus, receipts for every purchase in the last seven years, and no less than fifteen Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupons. Also included was my wallet with about 4 lbs. of change. The parents on my sons’ sport teams knew me as the lady who came to the games really prepared. “Mrs. Weinstein has the band-aids. If you’re really nice she’ll give you the ones with the antibiotic cream in the bandage. Not feeling well? Mrs. Weinstein has the raspberry flavored Emergen-C. A corkscrew? Chocolate? Cuticle clippers? Trust me. Just ask her. Wink.”
When you lug around a suitcase that exceeds the permissible weight of a carry on, it is difficult to stand upright at times. It is no wonder I have been suffering with back problems for years. So when our family recently flew across the pond for a journey through Israel and Poland I knew I couldn’t carry CVS with me. Because I’m a procrastinator, packing for the trip occurred hours before the flight. I had no time to think or plan, which oftentimes suits me. Flying overseas was a big deal for us. The mere fact that we were taking the “trip of a lifetime” was the platform for which I plucked my driver’s license and two credit cards from the bursting bag and tossed portable CVS aside. Granted, I had a backpack which served me well abroad, but I had taken a giant leap in leaving behind the countless items I had grown accustomed to having within my reach.
The trip through Israel was a seamless joy. Not only did I feel lighter (quite literally), experiencing Israel’s history and culture connected me to the Earth in a way I hadn’t felt in years. My heart had been heavy for months after the loss of my mother. There is no tangible explanation for the pure, unadulterated bliss I felt on Israel’s soil, only a feeling, a peaceful wisp of unseen air that circled around me and left me renewed and refreshed. Being in Jerusalem with the three people I love and trust most in the world gave me much to consider. When we unnecessarily hold onto things, they can weigh us down both physically and mentally.
When we arrived home in Miami, portable CVS was resting right where I had left her. She looked old and worn, unfamiliar. Rifling through the bag, I noticed the different meanings clinging to her inhabitants, the many things I carried with me over the years. Although some were essential, most were not. There were a few that served as a pick me up. Some were for security, others for pure neurotic amusement. And it dawned on me that all of these things symbolized other things—certain friends, old habits, comfortable needs. They are things we hold onto out of fear, or nostalgia, things that clutter our mind and often inhibit personal growth and true appreciation for the moment.
Today I bought a new pocketbook. It wasn’t expensive; it wasn’t woven together by a famous fashion designer. It was a compact, sturdy, nameless bag which holds only the true essentials. I filled her with just a wallet, keys, my favorite lipstick, and one packet of Kleenex wipes. In trimming the fat—letting go—I had become fuller and freer than I ever felt before. What's in your bag? Is it time to let some things go?