Taking part in the Ann Dee Ellis 8-Minute Memoir Writing Challenge. This is Day Thirty-Five.
Over the years of my life, the appearances of my bags have changed, and so have the contents. Every bag I have ever carried, from ones that I love to ones that drove me crazy and I couldn’t wait to set down, needed to be periodically dumped out, sorted and culled. As we move through life, we tend to collect things—especially as women, whose clothing is almost always sub-optimal on the pockets.
When I was young, most of the contents of my bag were things given to me by other people—hand me downs. While I may have chosen the outside to be floral patchwork or a floating hippie skirt, I hadn’t yet learned if the things given to me were valuable or were in need of culling. For a long time, one of the things in my bag was the idea that I Didn’t Follow Through on things, that I was Flighty and Unreliable. I lugged these ideas around in my bag for years. Even when I finally thought I had thrown them away, I found little pieces of them broken off and wedged into the seams and hidden places deep at the bottom of the bag.
Another idea that took years to find and clear out was that I wasn’t Valuable Enough Alone. That one was harder, because it was so tiny, but it was everywhere. I would easily dump out and discard other hand-me-downs, but it took years to notice the film Not Good Enough left on everything I threw in my bag.
As I moved through my life and switched out the hippie backpack (whose strap worked well as a generator belt on my Bug on Hwy 1 one summer—add Resourceful and Competent to the bag!) for a leather bag, I added more things I liked and chose myself, instead of just accepting the things other people gave to me. Adding things like Good Communicator, Sensitive to Others’ Feelings, and Excellent at Teaching Concepts gave me great satisfaction and happiness. My bag was somehow lighter, even though it had more in it, when I took an active role in choosing what to carry.
Today, there are still occasional fragments of old ideas that prick my fingers if I reach in carelessly. Some things are much harder to rid of all trace, and I have found that having gotten rid of some things leaves me much better able to help other people. That’s another things I like in my modern bag: Insight and Helping.
I’ve added some Calm and some Experience to the Fiery Temper, but have learned that getting rid of things that might be detrimental in large doses isn’t wise— that Fire is actually super useful in certain situations, and my life wouldn’t be the same if I believed people when they said it needed to go. That was just about their personal comfort level with the cold. Turns out Fire is a really good addition to Advocacy, Education and also Love…along with so many other things. I just keep it in a special pocket now; it doesn’t spill nearly as often as it did when I was younger.
What’s in your bag?