Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Secret Ninja Packing Skills

Through the years, I've seen them in the airports

usually whizzing past me with a pitying glance

as I burst a vein trying to juggle 
my over-sized suitcase, 
and a purse that could hide a small child.

They are the older ladies
who've learned to travel light.

How I've envied them.

I've even attended conferences with them and studied them throughout our time together to see if I could spot something lacking in their wardrobe or the items they need

but no, they always seem well-dressed, put together, and prepared for whatever the weather or the classes require.

They remain a mystery to me, this army of women who can survive with one modest rolling bag and a compact purse.

They are my clear superiors with secret ninja packing skills known only to those who've earned access to their ranks.

But I'm closing in on them.

Now, in my fifties, I'm beginning to experience a taste of the freedom that allows my older sisters to travel light.

As the days of my life fly past, my desire to spend time fussing with personal appearance diminishes in the light of my passion for not missing a moment of what matters.

I've no time to dither over a stray lock of hair or a fussy blouse.
I've no energy to waste on choosing the right height of heel or the perfect shade of lipstick to match my ensemble.

Life is less and less about how I appear 
and more and more about 
who I am. 

I am more inclined to believe that most of what I need in any situation is already contained 
in my heart and in my mind
so that what gets thrown into my overnight bag is almost inconsequential.


I'm not quite where they are, yet. 

I still have an unnatural attachment to my blow-dryer and I haven't quite whittled my travel needs down to a single bag

but I'm getting there.

Now, I'm grateful for these travel-pros whizzing past me all these years. 

I've even forgiven them for tossing me the occasional withering stare and shaking their heads when I've paused, out of breath from dragging my load

because they've modeled for me a goal to which I can aspire as I age,

an aspiration I wouldn't have known was worthy 
had it not been for the older ladies 
who've learned to travel light.

Lighten up.
Carry most of what you need within you.
Spend less time in the mirror and more in the adventure and the journey.

And remember that aching backs and heavy loads
diminish the joy of travelling
and after all,
who needs that?

One day, if I pass you in the airport
as you pause to catch your breath,
wheeling my single bag,
flipping my gray hair as I cast a withering look in your direction,
you'll know I've earned my place
among the gray-haired packing ninjas that came before.

Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians continually late for dinner. Her articles appear in numerous magazines. She authors the blog, Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island. She’s seeking a publisher for her speculative Celtic adventure, The Overcomers. Back in the dark ages, Lori earned degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies and more recently, a black belt in karate. She’s a wife, mom, crisis counselor, and part-time dragon slayer.

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