“Dance ah yard before yuh dance abroad” is one of my all time favorite Jamaican proverbs. There is nothing that talks about getting your house in order before trying to assist others so succinctly than this phrase. One of the most difficult things we have to do when we try to improve ourselves is handling our baggage.
Porters – whether at the airport, hotel or similar venues – are adept at baggage handling. Experience has taught them to know their bags – to be able to size them up accordingly. They can see how much work it will take to get them where they need to go, and will use their energy smartly to transport them. Sure, it probably took them years of experience to figure out how to do this, but one really has to appreciate their skill.
Now, someone might yell out: “what are you talking about? They just lift and move bags – there ain’t no skill in that!” Perhaps, but isn’t there the need for a similar skill in handling our own personal baggage?
Knowing your baggage means partly identify what your bags are. In my own readings and talking to elders, this is often the hardest first step that needs to be taken in order to be a better person. Everyone has baggage – that is as much of fact of life as is death and paying taxes. Yet, it’s amazing to see how one can get caught up in situations where if they clearly knew what their baggage was the outcomes would be different.
For example, love is a wonderful thing; knowing who you’re falling in love with makes the whole thing better. Sometimes we get so hung up on the initial rush we feel from being with someone new that the idiosyncrasies and larger flaws of their personality gets airbrushed away by our feelings of bliss. Those feelings are so strong it blocks us from seeing clearly how things may fit if a long-term relationship is the ultimate goal. For some that’s ok, because all they really want is the initial rush – that high of being with someone new. But what happens when the same person wants to the long-term relationship? They might lose someone they love because they cannot see how what used to be a preference has now become baggage.
Ever had that one friend who is always in a relationship – no matter how bad the break ups are from the previous one they jump into another relationship pretty quickly afterwards? Or that cousin who likes to live above their means yet their come cannot support their spending habits? Or that student who can never do his work on time but is brilliant under pressure? All of these situations could be signs of carrying around bags without knowing what they are on some level.
No one said identifying baggage is easy. But knowing what’s in your bags makes carrying them easier. It is better to pack your own luggage knowingly than to be forced to pay the price for pieces you didn’t even know you were carrying around.