Why We Hold On
Last month, I took a two-week vacation which was long overdue. I hadn’t traveled since December 2019 due to the pandemic, so I was anxious to get home and see family.
When it came time to pack for my trip, I pulled out my usual, trusty suitcase from the closet. It holds everything and then some. Suddenly, it hit me. My trusty suitcase was 30 years old. Yes, you heard me. 360 months! Three decades!! The funny thing is that it had minimal wear and tear; looked brand new inside. The obvious setback to it was the fact that it didn’t have the spinner wheels – which made maneuvering it quite interesting.
The suitcase was part of a luggage set that my mother bought me when I graduated high school. I was leaving home for college, and she wanted me to have "good luggage that would last." Well, that turned into an understatement. It was so good, in fact, that it stayed with me through my entire adult life. It took on the ATL more times than I can count, enjoyed the sunshine in Myrtle Beach, enjoyed the French Quarter in Louisiana, right by my side out west, down south, up north, and even overseas (shout-out to Germany).
I was holding onto it for dear life but I knew, in that moment, it was time to let it go.
Don’t we find ourselves saying that about people, places, and things in our lives? One day we look up and realize that we’ve held on too long, and find it difficult to let go. Many of us remain unconscious to these memories, until they overwhelm us.
I felt that by letting go of the suitcase I was somehow letting go of the memory of my mother. It brought me sadness and pain just to think about it throwing it away. Each time the memory was recalled, it was brought to life by inviting the past into the present. I just failed to realize that I’ll always have the memories. And I’m not discrediting her or forgetting her by buying a new suitcase.
When we least expect it negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness, frustration, and even anger can surface. But in order to enjoy the fullness of life, we must be willing to let go of the story that accompanies the pain. This begins with the desire to release the pain and suffering in order to allow the new, fresh and expansive energy of life to shine through our life.
By no means does this underscore what has occurred in the past (good or bad). You are choosing not to carry it anymore in the present moment and future. When we identify with our pain, we view the world through a distorted lens. It’s not fair to do that to ourselves.
It takes a great deal of energy to keep the past alive. The mental and emotional resources required could be better spent on other life experiences. I think back on that suitcase now and know that my mother would have wanted me to buy a new one. It's rose gold, y'all! And she's got spinner wheels that roll like a dream. Ma would be excited and happy. Now, I am too.