Most of you who follow my blogs know that I walk to work every day. In the beginning it took me thirty minutes to make my journey. It was a bit exhaustive and I struggled every day; until I decided to concentrate on the beauty of the Susquehanna River and my own personal thoughts to help the walking process along. After a few months I was getting to work faster. It now takes me about 15 minutes to make the trek and I enjoy it more now than when I started.
I earned a glorious gift in the subtle changes of my body. Jeans fitting slimmer in the waist and thighs, pants looking sleeker, face and neck have slimmed down. These changes were gradual and it didn’t hit me until one night I was going out with my girls and when I walked past a mirror I thought to myself “wow, that’s what you use to look like.” And she smiled…yes she smiled…oh the point…let me get out of the mirror….yes get to the point.
I was to attend a training program this weekend in Gettysburg. I had made plans to ride with a friend who was going to pick me up from work. I packed , in one bag, my laptop, the notes from our last training session, the speech I’m working on along with various other papers and the current hardback novel I’m reading. In another bag I packed my overnight clothes, training clothes, boots, toiletries and other odds and ends I thought I might need over the weekend.
I picked both bags up and got ready to walk to work. These bags were heavy but I thought about that fact that on average, women in Africa and Asia walk 4 miles every day to collect water for their families.
To transport the water, most women and children carry it in buckets, jars, or jerry cans on their heads. A typical bucket can hold 5 gallons of water, which weighs 40 pounds. The frequent, prolonged pressure on the head, neck, and spine can cause pain and disabilities that afflict children the rest of their lives. When girls carry water every day from a young age, it can seriously affect their physical development, sometimes resulting in pelvic deformities, making childbirth difficult later in life.
So I figured I could make it 12 blocks carrying my laptop and boots.
I started out and the pressure from the duffel bag slung around my neck and shoulders was immediate. The laptop bag was full and I carried it at an awkward angle because the duffel bag kept swinging and throwing me off-balance. Not to mention that fact that the straps on my bag were tattered from overuse and I feared they would snap from the extra weight.
Here’s the thing. I knew I had to get to work. I knew I was going to have to carry these things. I didn’t have a choice so I made up in my mind to get the task done. As I walked I began to think (as always). Prior to today and only after training my body to get use to the walk – by actually getting out there and doing it, I made this journey everyday without fail in less than 15 minutes. But today the weight of “draggin’ all dem bags like dat” was greatly slowing me down.
As I looked ahead of me I couldn’t focus on the horizon – I couldn’t see the end, it seemed as if I had been walking for a long time and equally had a long time to go. My footsteps were heavier, my attitude almost defeatist. I know my face had to be screwed up from juggling the bags and my rapidly going downhill enthusiasm for walking.
I didn’t notice the leaves changing color on the trees or the ripples in the river. I rolled my eyes at the joggers and actually got angry because I had to move out-of-the-way of a couple walking carefree hand in hand…although for real they could have stepped to the side…didn’t they see all the baggage I was carrying? All I could think about was “how much farther?”
The more I walked the further away from my job it seemed I got. Carrying baggage was destroying my generally gleeful demeanor. I wondered if this is what it felt like to be a “bag lady” as depicted in Eyrakah Badu’s song. Is that what it’s like to go through life carrying baggage from old relationships and unhappy childhoods?
Tightly packing past hurts and transgressions? Shame and embarrassment stuffed in toilette bags, Packing every so-called and actual “wrong” into bags and hoisting them over our neck and shoulders until we are bogged down with the weight of “why me Lord?”
I could clearly see how damaging it could be physically, mentally and emotionally to go through life “carrying baggage” from one relationship to another. With each failed relationship the load getting heavier, the burden dragging on.
I made it to work finally. It was the longest walk. When I entered my office I literally dropped the bags on the floor and felt instant relief.
I made up my mind right then and there to unpack any “baggage” I was hauling around and pack light in the future.
“Bag lady, you gon hurt yo back, draggin all them bags like dat, I guess nobody eva tol you all you must hold on to is you…is you…is you.” -(Eryakah Badu)
Iya Isoke © December 4, 2007