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Peace Packs Light

I have traveled the world with bags full of everything I thought I would need on my journeys. When I finished packing, what I considered to be necessities were quite heavy, but I knew nothing about where I was going and felt the need to be prepared for any and everything. I was proud of my ability to pack so much into my luggage. It was super organized and thoughtful. The TSA agents were definitely going to be impressed with my packing abilities when they performed their random searches, and might not even destroy the order of my outfits out of respect for the most neatly packed bag they had ever seen.
Even my luggage was beautiful.  I made sure it was different from everyone else’s so that it stood out at baggage claim, making my transition through customs faster!
My plans were foolproof!
I read all of the warnings about the countries I was visiting to avoid the “dangerous” parts and shady people. I made sure to make detailed itineraries to maximize my time at the historical landmarks of distant lands. I can still say,”Hello”, “Thank You”, and “Where is the bar/party” in about 10 different languages! My camera was out ALL THE TIME so that I could document and validate my moves on social media. (If nobody sees it, it didn’t happen, right?!)
According to my timeline, my shit was poppin! I looked good and had a smile on in all my posts from around the globe! I was walking in the dream I had as the lucky little black kid, taught to make a plan, prepare, and achieve!
But when I logged off…. I. Was. Miserable.
All of those places I visited and all of the things I was blessed to experience didn’t satisfy me in the ways I thought they “should”. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t finding the happiness I had promised myself as a kid, so with each new destination of disappointment, I found ways to blame my environment for failing my expectations. Greece was too cold and the nightclubs didn’t keep up with the latest music. Lebanon wasn’t as advanced as Dubai and Dubai had too many rules. I gravitated to other people that pushed negativity, too. We would stand back from the crowd in our arrogance and scoff at all the people partying or moving cluelessly through the airport. Pssh. Peasants. They didn’t have clear cut plans, like mine. They’re just wandering through life having long unwanted conversations with strangers, slowing other people down`from their destinations.
I hated the Free Folk.
They never packed enough stuff or made enough plans. Their bags were old and dirty and they could never find their passports in the line at customs because they didn’t have it tucked away in a conveniently cool little passport pouch! And on top of all of that, they had the NERVE to be HAPPY! All. The. Time! They were happy in the super long TSA Security lines, even when they got randomly searched! They made jokes about leaving their toothbrush in the hotel or not having a jacket on their way to a ski resort! I just don’t understand why they didn’t have bags as heavy as mine!
And then, one day when my rage against happiness seemed like it was going to destroy me from the inside, God intervened in His ironic mystery.
The strap on my heavy ass, expensive ass, perfectly packed, precisely planned bag, broke. I was pissed! Cancel the trip, everything is ruined! But I kept going. The bag became unbearable because of the broken strap, so I decided to ditch it and get a smaller one. That forced me to get rid of a lot of what I would decide was “unnecessary”. This changed my itinerary because I wasn’t going to be properly dressed for some of the excursions I had planned. That curved my perfect plans into a few random events where I had no expectations, but met a few cool people. Those cool people took me to a few unique spots and all of a sudden the trip was feeling like a success. A messy, unexpected success!
What was happening?! How is this possible that I’m finding so much REAL happiness in a place where I was so unprepared?! The intensity of every moment heightened my senses as I experienced the unexpected, and every second stretched into an eternity. When I stuck to my detailed plans, I always felt like my time in a place was too short. But now, days were long and full, and nights never ended. A complete blur of bliss! And I could run with the wind because I had put down all the baggage that was holding me back!  
Pack Light. 
Needless to say, my bags got smaller and smaller with each new trip. I wasn’t as fly walking through the airport and sitting on the plane and there were less “passport” posts decorated with cocktails and elitist hashtags. I found myself dancing, talking to strangers, and seeking newness, not in places, but in the people there. I could barely find my phone most of the time! I had finally removed myself from the “dream” I had as a lucky little black kid and started living my reality as a blessed global citizen.  
Little do most of us know that if we aren’t careful, even our dreams can become heavy bags of burden on our backs. We carry them for so long that we get used to their weight and even consider the discomfort as normal. After laboring down this path, listening to parents and teachers and mentors preaching to stay the course and be diligent in achieving our dreams, we decide that deviating to smell some roses is a sin against our struggle. And those that we see along the side of the road who have stopped for whatever reason aren’t worthy of whatever their dreams were, due to their lack of focus. But that is simply not true.
The idea that happiness and peace are only found in the dream removes the possibility of finding it within ourselves. We put them up as collateral in the purchase of our idea of achievement, never to possess them again.
Happiness is not a place. It is the fuel within to guide you from destination to destination.
Peace is not an escape from the noise. It is the ability to be in the middle of the noise and still have serenity.
If we are unable to generate peace and happiness within, nowhere in this world will satisfy our souls. We will travel around with our beautifully packed, heavy bags, spreading the misery we feel within through each new land. Or even if we do find our idea of a peaceful place, where we are left to our own subconscious conversation, we ruin something beautiful because those voices of negativity have grown too strong to control.
I can tell you, it is VERY hard to realize when we are the problem. Like addicts, we’ve become so used to our affliction and not looking in the mirror, that we normalize our sickness. It’s easy to place the blame for my unhappiness on other people or places, because I LOVE ME! Right?
Wrong. So wrong!
We love the version of ourselves we have created as flawless. This unlucky character that is the victim of fate, not a pattern of their own actions. So, the first step to finding peace and happiness is to take accountability for everything in your life.
“I packed this heavy ass bag that is causing my discomfort.”
“I planned an impossible journey that is stressing me for time.”
“I made everyone around me uncomfortable by focusing on a place and not the people.”
“If I am not having fun, it is my fault.”
Rudyard Kipling penned, “Fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run!” Notice that he did not say to fill the minute with 30 seconds of planning for the run.
Dance in the rain that ruins your desert safari.
Play peek-a-boo with the crying baby during a delay at a layover.
Sing karaoke with the bartender in the empty nightclub of some boring countryside.
Stop by an orphanage and give away your cool sunshades.
Leave your mark on the world, but don’t let it be a scar.
Be your own Peace.
Make your own Love.
And, always, Pack Light!

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