This is one great takeaway I got from the movie Up in the Air. George Clooney even had a seminar about it, using a backpack as a metaphor.
In my case, to be able to explain this better, let me use an analogy, which is also based on experience.
When I was planning to travel long-term back in 2015, I’m not quite sure what to bring since it will be my first time. Should I bring winter or summer clothes, or both? How many shoes should I bring? Undies and towels?
It’s easy planning for a short-term trip but for a long-term trip, it’s an entirely different story.
When I left, I had a 65L backpack on me that weighs around 20 kilos plus another small backpack for my personal stuff (i.e. laptop, docs, gadgets, etc.). Admittedly, that was a newbie mistake and I wish I knew better, but hey, we all learn best from experiences, right?
As expected, I brought too many clothes and other unnecessary stuff that I don’t actually need. As months passed, I started giving away my clothes until what was left on me was only half of what I had when I started out. I even gave away my favorite running shoes because again, I brought too much.
From 20 kilos, it went down to 13 kilos. And I felt so much lighter and my back thanked me for it.
As you can see, this story can be applied in real life. How? Just see how much emotional baggage you have that is weighing you down.
Are you resentful or do you hold any grudges to anyone? Do you always want to take revenge on people who’ve done you wrong? Do you always take things personally, thinking people are always attacking you? Are you always bothered and worried about life?
Wouldn’t you feel lighter and better if you just let go of all those resentments, regrets and worries? I’ve heard it many times from friends and family, all the stresses and worries that occupy their daily lives. These simple things robbed them of enjoying what they have now. They keep on stressing about things that could go wrong, that they often neglect the simple joys that day-to-day activities bring. They are so focused on planning for a comfortable retirement that they don’t realize how they are sacrificing their current situation — working their asses off for greedy capitalists and completely disregarding their dreams and ambitions.
Why? Because society dictates how we should live our lives.
Ever think about why the retirement age is between 60-65? Why not 50 or earlier? Why are we not taught of having multiple streams of income early on in our lives so we can achieve financial independence and not wait for retirement? Why should we get married and have our own family in our late 20s? Why can’t we do that in our 30s or 40s?
So many questions, worries, and even, what ifs and regrets.
I know it’s hard not to worry but like what I’ve always said to my friends, shit will always happen no matter how much you prepare for it. You will hit rock bottom the least you expect it, lose your job in the middle of a financial crisis, and even get hit by critical illness that will totally turn your life around.
With so many uncertainties in life, there’s absolutely no way you can prepare for the worst. Heck, tomorrow could be the end of the world for all we know!
So tell me, how much does your life weigh? If you can put your life in that 65L backpack, what would you include?
I hope you only make room for happiness, love, dreams and ambitions. Fill that backpack with wonderful and lasting memories, with experiences that molded you to who you are today, and with relationships that contribute highly to your personal growth.
Don’t fill that backpack with regrets, worries and resentments. And your heart will thank you for it.