When you arrive home after a trip, how long does it take you to unpack your bag? Do you do it straight away or does it sit there for ages?
Unpacked suitcase clutter
The unpacked suitcase is an often overlooked form of clutter because you tell yourself it’s only a bag and it’s only temporary. Some fully or partially-unpacked suitcases may be left languishing in people’s homes for days, weeks, months or even years.
The well-seasoned traveller generally unpacks straight away, but many people procrastinate. After retrieving a few essentials, the rest stays in suitcase limbo with the bag half-open, half-closed, like a faithful dog waiting for attention.
If you lost your bag in transit, you’d be upset But now you’re safely home with it, you’re indifferent to its contents. What’s going on?
Of course it’s your perfect right to live like this if you choose to and you’ve probably never even considered it could be a problem. But the fact of the matter is that until you’ve unpacked, you haven’t really arrived. Part of you is still “on the road”. And if you haven’t fully arrived, there are levels of depth, intimacy, and richness that you will never access in your life and not even know you are missing.
It works the other way round, too. When you’re away on your travels, if you arrive in a place and don’t fully unpack, you aren’t fully present or available for experiences while you’re there. It’s usually not worth doing if you arrive late at night and are leaving the next morning, but if you’re staying any longer, unpacking your case will change your relationship to the location, the people you meet and the quality of the experiences you have there. It makes a significant difference between just visiting a place and truly being there, physically and energetically. It’s a choice between a superficial engagement and one that has substance, between idly drifting or a life well-lived.
That’s why, when I’m teaching a residential workshop or training, I always ask my students to fully unpack the first night they arrive. I know I’ll be able to work with them at a much deeper level if they do so, and they will get much more from the course as a result. Those who can’t be bothered are not as present or committed and it often turns out they may as well have saved their money and stayed at home.
Know in which direction your loved ones are
While we’re on the topic of travelling, there’s another wisdom I can offer, learned from decades of flying all over the world to teach events.
When you arrive in a new place, take a few moments to figure out in which geographical direction your loved ones are (it helps to carry a small compass for this purpose). Hold this peripheral awareness during the hours of sleep and it will allow you to feel emotionally nurtured and connected to them, no matter how far away you are. This in turn allows you to fully arrive and engage at a deeper level, because you feel connected, not separate, from those you hold dear. It feels as if a part of them is there with you, involved in your life instead of distant from it.
This is a great technique to practice whenever you’re away and it works especially well when you visit somewhere you’ve never been before or are travelling alone.
Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2015, updated 2022
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