I don’t think I’ll ever become a light traveller. Believe me, I’ve tried: I limit shoes and clothes to a minimum and I have a PhD in finding travel sized items: toothbrush, shampoo, lotion, flash light, towel, computer, you name it. I even remove all unnecessary packaging, and apart from my guide books, all my reading is digital.
In spite of my efforts, however, my suitcase invariably (and mysteriously) ends up weighing in at the maximum permissible – or more – and brings desperation to the faces of the poor unknowing souls who offer to shift the slightly built, but heavily luggaged lady’s case for her.
Early this fall, I went on a shorter trip. I had packed very soberly, and contrary to the rule, didn’t have to jump up and down on the lid to get it shut. I felt so sure of victory I didn’t even bother to check the weight. Carrying the case down the stairs was not the usual struggle, and lifting it into the boot of the car was a mere trifle.
I was smiling as I more or less effortlessly put my case on the conveyor belt. Finally, I complimented myself, I had made it. I triumphantly looked up at the display… and froze. It showed 1 kg overweight! My expression must have been the epitome of disbelief.
Weigh too much…
I looked at the woman issuing my boarding cards, and was doubly puzzled not to see any signs of apprehension on her part; she calmly and efficiently went about her business, printing out my baggage tag, attaching one to my case and the other to the back of my passport.
Feeling utterly confused, I looked up at the display one more time. Just below it, a perfunctorily attached piece of paper said: “Shows 10 kgs too much.”
Scales of fate
So, I thought, this was Fate’s way of telling me, “No matter what lengths you go to, however clever you think you are, the airport scales will never display a weight in favour of your luggage!”
To which I’ve now resigned myself. I haven’t stopped trying, but I have stopped being disappointed in myself whenever I end up being unable to carry my bulging suitcase. I happily bump it step by step up and down stairs in elevator-free bus and railway
stations, often being offered a helping hand (which usually turns into three or four, as people rush to the aid of my struggling helper).
I could go on and on about my luggage, explaining how it probably ends up heavy because I always throw in “what-if” items at the last minute. Or how, when I left for India with hardly any clothes, I still ended up filling up my weight quota by packing enough remedies to make any MASH supply officer hug herself with joy, or in this (suit)case, to keep me and half of Tamil Nadu healthy for the duration of my stay and way into the future.
But I won’t. After all, the weight of luggage is just a practicality. More important are the things you experience and the people you meet. And just as I only make tentative plans about my luggage these days, I find that this is also the best approach when it comes to journeys and life in general.
Things don’t always work out the way you’ve foreseen or hoped. Sometimes a sudden turn of events may even temporarily turn your life upside down, forcing you to realign your horizons until upside down becomes a meaningful and functional norm.
Whatever happens, we have no choice but to take it in our stride. The less attached we are to the plans we make, the better we can cope with the twists and quirks of Fate, and the more likely we are to spot good things and nice people when they pop up along the bumpy, winding, crazy road that is life.
On the wings of chance
Don’t get me wrong. The stride thing is not always easy, plans are in principle an excellent concept, and dreams and hopes are as necessary as breathing. Without them we’d be cast about like aim- and powerless autumn leaves on the unpredictable winds of chance.
However, as soon as you realize life is not a defined line going from point A to point B, it becomes happier and easier, and you may be able to experience all the other letters in the alphabet as well.
I hope your dreams will come true and your plans work out. And if they don’t, I wish you the ability to find different paths and new goals. Never stop dreaming, after all, to round off with a Shakespearean quote: We are such stuff as dreams are made on.
I wish you Merry Christmas and a 2014 packed with dreams, hopes, plans and a delightful dash of serendipity.