For months you have imagined how this exotic and long-awaited trip will be. Cumulatively, large chunks of your days have been spent in imagining the places you will visit, the customs you will discover, the new dishes that you will bravely try. The thought of it all is just too wonderful! And then the day comes for departure.
At the ticket counter you are horrified to discover how much you will now be charged for luggage that previously was free! Then you make your way to security and endure the humiliation of being viewed by the TSA people as a possible criminal, as if you are automatically guilty just because you want to get on that plane. At your departure gate you discover that the flight is completely booked; at that moment you regret not having sprung for First Class or an upgraded Business seat since a full flight means that you are now facing 6 hours of close intimacy with your seatmates back in the Economy cattlecar.
Fifteen hours later you arrive at your destination only to find that the hotel cannot find proof of your reservation. When you finally get to your room you wish that you had spent a little more for a better view. Depending on how many time-zones you have traveled your body and mind spend the next day or two physically disoriented from jet-lag, a condition that will not be bargained with: When it says you’re taking a nap… you’re taking a nap! And then after a week you are surprised to discover that you miss sleeping in your own bed instead of the one that you are currently in and for which you have paid a bundle.
Sometimes the anticipation of something is almost more wonderful than the actual arrival of the thing itself, and it is often a puzzling disappointment when the actual event doesn’t feel the way that we had imagined it would. In some way our inner journey is the same. When young we are sure that when we are older we will be wise and that we will be able to make the best of decisions because our emotions will have matured. No more flying off out of control! We will be someone who others admire. And then one day somewhere down the road, after having been hurt yet again by that certain someone, we suddenly realize that when we are at our most miserable our only comfort seems to be in imagining the punishment of the one who hurt us. How did we arrive at this place of bitterness? How did we become someone we do not like?
Each one of our choices is a step which takes us somewhere. In the short-term we can tell ourselves, “There’s no harm in it”… but is this true in the long-term? Are our choices fostering self-centeredness or other-centeredness? Does having a good time take priority over embracing self-discipline’s self-restriction? Does the soothing comfort of staying with what we know push away from us the uncomfortable unknown and the untried?
On our inner journey, one way or another the luggage of the questions we ask ourselves… or don’t ask ourselves… will cost us something: Is it worth paying that price for your luggage?