I have been thinking some lately about the word baggage. Not as in luggage but as in the emotional stuff people say they carry around with them, their baggage. It is said with negative implications, baggage being a bad thing to have, to carry around. Maybe some childhood trauma or something that has happened to an individual that has been unfair, punitive, negative in some way.
In general, it seems like people talk about these things as if they were an article of clothing or a possession that you can choose to put down or pick up. Almost the idea that you could leave this baggage behind you if you really worked hard and wanted to dispose of it. But why does it have to be such a negative thing? Also why is it treated as separate from the individual?
For me, my whole life, who I am now in the present is made up of all that has come before me, not just my childhood but all of my history and the history around me. It is who I am. Without all of the past I would be a different person and thus, not myself. I look at all my past, good experiences and not so positive encounters as a part of me. Not something I can pick up or put down, choose to acknowledge, or pretend does not exist. It is me. I am so grateful for that, so grateful that all of what has gone before has brought me to a point of who I am today, where I have a loving husband and partner, and two beautiful children.
My life is not defined by one event in my past. I make the choice to review things, evaluate them, learn from them, learn about them, and move on into the future with that knowledge intact. Facing future decisions with the knowledge that my past experience does not control me, it is me, a part of me. It isn’t baggage. And maybe if we could get rid of the need to judge all experiences as fitting into one category or another (positive or negative) we could just accept them for what they are, part of us.