What Do You Pack?

When you go somewhere most of the time you need to take a few things with you.  I know depending on where you go determines what you take with you. What do you pack it in?

Opening Suitcase

The idea of a suitcase was an afterthought. At the time it was created, only rich people traveled, and they used large trunks because they could also bring servants to carry them. The chosen method of travel were ships, and trunks worked best in the bottom of a leaky ship that tossed items around. Trunks were made with metal bases, sealed with rubber to keep water from getting in. It made it difficult for a person without servants to travel.[1]

According to the Smithsonian, more people began traveling for the sake of traveling at the beginning of the 20th Century.  Transportation was better with many more ways to travel and it was not just for rich people anymore.

The suit case was originally created to hold a suit. There was a compartment inside for the shirts, and sometimes even an attachment box for a hat. It was designed to hold a suit and had a handle to be carried. Before that, there was a carpet bag which could hold a few items and was also able to be carried.

Once the idea of suit cases caught on, it became an industry.  Historians said that our luggage reflects our modes of transportation. This is very true today as we have to pack our suitcases based on whether we drive, fly, sail or travel by train.  Each mode of transportation has its own rules about what we can/cannot bring.

As I think about what I will take on this journey, because I know everything and the kitchen sink can’t go, I have to think about what will I carry it in. I think about this a lot when I travel because I know, whatever I take, I will carry.  Let me say that again, whatever I take, I will carry.

One of the things I learned in 2018 was that I have to carry the things that I want. I do. Not my kid, or family, or friends. I should not load things up in a car or a cart unless I intend to keep the car or cart as long as I keep the things. I have to carry my own things.

I try to choose suitcases that make that job easier. I like smaller ones that I can lift. If they have a handle and wheels that can rolls then I am a superstar.

I know choosing the suitcase before I decide what to put in it is the best way for me. So how do you pack for your trips

[1] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/history-humble-suitcase-180951376/

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Inner Journey

In order to go anywhere, your mind and body have to be ready to go. I believe this is why most people don’t travel far from their home. We are not willing to leave behind the familiar to seek out the unfamiliar.  For some of us, there is too much danger in the unknown.

Red Prayer

In Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, he wrote how he remembered his childhood as a small one stick fighting with his friends in their village. It was one of the happiest times of his life. The only clothing they wore was a blanket across their shoulders.  When he moved to a larger village, he had to dress differently and learn new customs. He missed his village, but the new places brought on new adventures and new opportunities.

Like Mandela as a child, those moments of learning create conflict for us. I know I hate being made to feel stupid for not knowing something. But I realize not all families have the same values or customs which makes you have to have a conversation with others about how things should function. We are too frightened to ask someone why they do things a certain way.

Everyone has gaps in their knowledge.  We do not know everything about everyone. We all need to learn something from someone else. If we are fortunate, we are surrounded by people who can give us that information. Other times we have to do what we can with what we got. And this is where the adventure usually comes in.

I am a product of integration, which means I went to white schools most of my life. My parents did not go to white schools. So there were times when we would have a conversation about things they knew nothing about. It is difficult to advise a child when you don’t know what they are talking about.  Yet my sisters and I learned to adapt. Many times we just handled it ourselves.

Example, my parents had no concept or idea of sending me to college once I graduated high school.  But I decided I wanted to go and started investigating it. Many of the kids around me were going to college. It seemed like the logical thing to do. (I had no concept of going and getting a job which was probably their idea of what happens after you graduate high school.) There were times they looked at me like I was crazy, but I just thought they were dumb parents.  I had no clue I was defying all of the odds against me.

Because I did not have a source of folk to ask questions, I forged ahead. My ignorance was bliss, and it worked for me. I also had no idea of college cost because I chose one of the most expensive universities in the area.  And the truth is my parents were probably happy I was leaving their house. It was good to get rid of an obnoxious teenager.

The truth is the journey starts in your head and heart. If it is not there, then your feet are moving for no purpose.  If there is a fire inside of you, then it can get you through anything. If there is no intention behind what you do, then you are like snow blowing.  You are moving here and there not sure where you will land.

My experiences during that time have taught me something about myself and my journey. Sometimes there are going to be gaps. It keeps you humble. You have to admit you don’t know something. You have to be willing to learn new things. Opportunity comes when you combine the two.

Fascinating Places

2019 will be a fascinating journey for me. It has started with a bang.  I have spent the first part of January reading books that take me deep into the jungles of the African continent. I read the story of one of the last people brought to the United States on a slave ship. He spoke of what his life was like before being captured. He spoke of his family and their customs, the rituals to become a man and get married.

More important, he spoke of the process of being captured to be a slave and what it was like watching everyone he loved being murdered. Like the author of the book, for many years I thought that the Europeans had seized the Africans from their native homes. But in Barracoon by Zora Neal Hurston, the old African man told a different story.

He spoke of other African tribes who ruthlessly killed entire villages just to capture the young and strong people to sell to the Europeans.  These killers left their regular way of life, which was farming, to become slavers. Motivated by greed, they created soldiers that could terrorize and take out a whole village. These soldiers were paid by the number of heads they brought back. The skulls were collected as a prize by their king.

It made me think. As these greedy people sold off all of their strength for material wealth, they were not prepared to fight the colonization that would overtake and suppress them. It reminds me that the greedy people today won’t get away with their evil deeds. They are just getting prepared to be undone by something more evil than themselves.

Another book took me into a different part of the continent. I loved reading how Nelson Mandela’s father was the family historian. He could recount the family’s history for hundreds of years, yet he could read or write.  Our history was repeated by word of mouth through the generations.

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It reminded me of my own family who would sit and tell stories of the way it used to be.  Even today I question older relatives to the point of annoyance because I want to know more. I want to know what it was like and what they did. But I am finding that some of the secrets older people tried to keep, are coming to light.

But this part of the journey makes me appreciate a history told orally and through art, like masks and other sculpture. It tells us what is beautiful. What is powerful. What is important. The thing I appreciate about African Art is that it finds beauty in the work. It is not an exact replica of someone or something. It just is.

We need to do the same. We need to tell our children the stories orally of our family. We need to create art that represents what legacy we leave behind. Many of the previous generations of my family were poor and undereducated. They did not think they were leaving much behind, but the truth is they left a lot.

I love the story Nelson tells of the first pair of pants he wore. They were not a brand new pair fresh from the tailor. They were an old pair of his father’s pants. His father cut them off so they would fit, and used a rope around the waist to hold them up. Nelson said it was one of the proudest moments of his life.

Think about what legacy you are leaving your family. What kind of objects are you making to represent it? Do your children know your family’s story? Do you? Remember when you carve out your part of your family history, it does not have to look like someone else’s. Like the African mask, it only represents what you want it to.

Happy New Year

So I missed the seminar where you were supposed to pick a word for the year, but I have enjoyed hearing your stories of what you learned about the words you chose.  If I had to pick a word for 2018 it would have been trust.

This year God has taught me that putting my trust in Him is the best way to live.  I could not depend on circumstances, I had to depend on God.  Regardless of the situation, I had to remind myself of what I knew to be true of God even though I could not see it.

As I packed up and moved across the country, I had to trust that God knew what He was doing.  I had to believe that I was capable of what He called me to. It was not easy, but it was worth it.  In the process, I have discovered a God who knows me better than I know me. He knows things I am capable of that I have not discovered yet. He knows exactly when to bring it out of me. It is seldom when I want it, but it is always right on time.

O Holy Night

God’s timing is always perfect. I haven’t always thought so, but I have what I need when I need it. I mean when the bus is late or I miss the train, I am not thinking, “Thank you, Lord.” But when the money runs out and the bills are due, I have found He is faithful to me in all things.

Another thing I learned through this process is that He is preparing me through these circumstances for things to come.  I realize I won’t be in this situation forever, so I better appreciate what I have while I have it.  I appreciate a city that has a public transportation system which makes it possible not to have a car. I love the city where millions of people love the city for millions of different reasons.  It is a place where people say please, thank you and be safe.

Gingerbread

I stepped outside my comfort zone and rode a train for 24 hours. ( I don’t use public restrooms, so holding it for 24 hours is almost impossible with an old lady bladder. Aging is not for the faint of heart.) It was a fun experience that I will try again.  This year has opened me up to new adventures.

My word for 2019: Journey. It means an act or instance of traveling from one place to another. To go on a journey. I am going places.

Journey

Truth is we are all going somewhere. Some of us just enjoy it. I don’t know where 2019 will lead you, but I hope you enjoy the journey. Know that it won’t last forever.

Peace and Hair Grease

 

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You Have Been Given The Opportunity

to make a moment.  How you decide to spend this moment in time, will determine how you remember it. For me, it is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas reminds me that God thought I was so important He came to earth in the form of a baby.  The Creator came down to be with the created.  He loves an undeserving humanity.

Gingerbread

Holidays give us the opportunity to spend time with that humanity, which in most cases look like our family. I know for some this sounds hard, but it will be some of the best time you ever spend.  It will give you insight into yourself and your family.  In our immediate family, the littles are all teenagers now. Opening presents aren’t near as fun as when they were younger and more excited. We realize time is growing short with them as they start to leave for college and start their own lives.

My sister started playing games with them so that it would be a chance to connect with them. At first, it was a competition with prizes.  These kids are too competitive. We discovered after a rough game of musical chairs, physical contact needed to be limited.  This year there were no prizes, but the trash talk was still as powerful as an old school game of spades because the competition was part of their DNA.

We laughed and played for hours. (And of course, I videoed some of the best moments) Our kids will have memories of a time when we were all together focused on the same thing and remembering it brought joy and laughter.  They may not remember the presents or the food. They will remember the fun.

My crazy sister decided to try it with the extended family. (I thought she was nuts) I was thoroughly surprised when the older members of the family did it.  We taught the games, they, of course, changed them some to adapt to them. It was a blast. Again, the joy and the laughter is what we are going to remember. (And my favorite memory will be when my aunt excused herself for a moment, my sister traded her to the other team. But because she is OUR aunt, she played for whatever team felt like. Sometimes she played for my sister’s team. Sometimes she played for the other team. It was great.)

Here is where the opportunity comes in. You can do what you always do when you get together with family or you can break old habits and experience new things together.  Playing games with the young and the old was such a crazy experience. I would have never thought of it myself, but I was willing to listen to others.

Go into 2019 with great memories of your family and friends. Spend time with each other and enjoy the world around you.