Always, before a trip, packing comes last and I drag my heels. I make lists, and piles of clothes on the bed. Fish out cases and bags… and go and make a cup of tea… leaving the mess behind.
I used to pride myself on travelling light. In the seventies, working at Ahmadu Bello University in Northern Nigeria, my physics lecturer husband and I used to spend the three months of the summer vacation attending conferences and visiting friends and family all over Europe. It was my proud boast that I could do this comfortably with only one suitcase (and not an oversized one either!).
I learnt how to thanks to an amazing American book called Europe on $10 a Day – the perfect guidebook to fabulous travelling, lightly and cheaply. I’m not sure I ever got down to the extreme minimalism of the author. Her idea of the perfect all-occasion outfit was an indestructible, crimplene, little black dress… but I did learn that shampoo would double as detergent for washing clothes, and most cheap hostelries were pretty relaxed about festoons of damp undies pegged to strings hung from the picture-rails!
I loved travelling light – and as I get older, I’m learning that there are other valuable ways of travelling light: not lugging around the burdens of disappointments, dead hopes, hurt feelings and, heaviest of all, unforgiveness.
I came across a quote from Gandhi this morning: ‘The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.’ Well, I certainly don’t consider myself strong, but I know I want to ditch the unbearable burdens of any unforgiveness that might be lurking and holding me back. To paraphrase St Paul, ‘I can’t do this on my own! I’m too weak. Who can help me? Thanks be to God… Jesus Christ our Lord!’ (Romans 7: 24-25)
And maybe I can take less with me in the way of extra clothes, shoes etc… I always take too much, but there is something about a wide-open car boot with the back-seats down that just invites you to throw in another coat or pair of boots, just in case!