Life Under 23 kg

After nearly two years of living out of a suitcase, it’s the weight of my life.



Of course, my metaphorical baggage is far greater. I’m certain no plane would clear the runway if we were required to check-in our personal life histories.

What’s Your Baggage?

Baggage: originating from the word luggage, meaning ‘that which needs to be lugged about’ or in Samuel Johnson’s 1755 dictionary, ‘any thing of more bulk than value.’

Baggage suggests burden; the weight of a past life we’d prefer to leave behind. Hardly the same items we’d hand-pick to accompany us on our travels, or worse still, pay to have stored indefinitely.

Case in point, the treasured items I so carefully selected and boxed up before leaving Vancouver now carry little meaning. A small print of a scarlet fishing boat bought in Nova Scotia, and my Emma Bridgewater coffee mugs are the only things that stir up any longing, the rest having been forgotten almost entirely.

So what was important then, isn’t anymore.

Without a home, living light is a necessity. With no place to sort and organize clothing in draws and closets my seasonal clothes get pulled out of, or shoved back into, a large black tote stored in a friend’s basement. It’s often easier (but not easy) to dispose of them along the way.

How about you?

Every now and again it’s good to ask ourselves, “What would my life be like without this…book, picture, knick-knack, drawing, coat, necklace, clock, scarf, table, shell, lamp, candle, gadget, cushion …?”

Unless it brings you alive, it’s very likely time to let it go. The Universe needs space for the new to enter. We know this when we ‘spring clean’. But what would it be like to ‘winter clean’? To ‘fall clean’? Or for every purchase of some thing new, remove another?

As my friend Moley would say, “G’wan”. Give it a try.

As Ram Dass says, “There is as much joy in doing with less as doing with more.”

It takes a long time for many of us to let go of the things we think we need. What we need aren’t so much things (unless they add some huge comfort or joy to our lives), but rather experiences.

But there’s now’t as queer as folk

-The Full Monty-

Travel Tip

If you’re in the market for a new suitcase, I’d highly recommend an IT-0-2 Super Lightweight Two Wheel Trolley Case 72cm suitcase. Weighing less than 2kg it’s helped make my life under 23kg feasible.


(purchased at Wanderlust, West 4th Avenue, Vancouver)

With Rachel’s blue and white bandana tied around the handle, it welcomes my arrival at every place I call home.


Image: Flickr ’23’ by fraumrou

6 comments on “Life Under 23 kg

  1. Dear Becky
    What a perfectly-timed entry. Today I am I my studio, trying to make space in my life for the new. As an artist, I always see the potential in every scrap , and consequently I become anguished at the thought of throwing anything away. I long to tread lightly…….I will heed your sage words and really ask myself those questions.
    The luggage suggestion is an excellent one. I will visit Wanderlust.
    I LOVED the description of luggage , weighing more than its value. How true.
    Your journey has started a lot of other journeys for people, I am sure. Your words come from such a depth, truly felt and lived. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Tania.
      I also purchased a bunch of Eagle Creek and Rick Steves packing bags from Wanderlust. They’re mesh zipped packs of varying sizes which I use to sort tops, bottoms, active wear, underwear, etc. They’re especially great if I go to a home where there are no draws for me to use.
      Travel shops carry a whole array of gadgets to aid the traveler these days. It’s like being a kid in a candy store 🙂

  2. What a beautiful and timely subject……luggage! Two weeks ago I returned from completing the Camino de Santiago in Spain. For 5 weeks, all my worldly possessions were distilled to the 7 or 8 kgs I “lugged” daily in my backpack. This was my second time on the Camino. Two years ago in late spring I crossed the Pyrenees and walked about 250 kilometers of the 800 kilometer ancient pilgrimage path. During that initial trek I was plagued with many problems, one of which was the seemingly impossible weight of my backpack. It did not matter how much I off-loaded, getting rid of many items to reduce the weight, it still felt incredibly heavy. This issue became quite a mystery to me as I would pick up other women’s packs and they were heavier than mine and they didn’t seem to have the problems I was having. Because I had many hours of walking in solitude on the Camino, I began to ponder the analogy between the burdens I was carrying in my life and how they related to this backpack issue. At that time I had some significant personal burdens, things that really did need some attending to……and over the next two years, I committed to resolving some of them. It was hard work; I had to say good-bye to a 35 year friendship, and create better boundaries. I left a job that was no longer serving me and took a big leap of faith in no longer clinging to old patterns, that on the outside looked safe and provided the illusion of security, but on the inside were very unhealthy.

    Not only was the backpack on the Camino heavy, but my body was getting heavy too. I had gained about 10 lbs which did not feel very good at all. What was I trying to protect and stay separate from?

    When I departed for the Camino two months ago to complete the pilgrimage, my pack weighed more than last time by about 3-4 lbs. Within a few days of walking, I no longer felt it on my back and wrote in my journal, “my pack and I are one.” It was clear that the emotional unburdening was felt in my entire system. The extra body weight dropped quickly and I walked daily free of pain and in full presence of the experience. I also liked that life was so simple, I wore the same clothes day after day (washing them as needed). I really didn’t need much to survive. Upon returning home, I saw so many material things I no longer wanted in my personal space and have begun an extensive clearing out process. It began as an inside job. Blessed be.

    1. Jacqueline, such wonderful experiences you’ve shared. I’m glad to hear this second trip went so well. The oneness with your pack resonated beautifully. And now, all the changes back at home. Radical simplification, as David Whyte would call it.

  3. Becky,

    Another in a series of penetrating, axis-tilting blog posts by you! Apart from the EXQUISITE touch of Rachel’s bandana on the handle of your suitcase (!) I really appreciate your reminder to to all of us to let go of what no longer brings us alive. As you know I wrestle with this one daily, and I find myself having to work harder and harder to justify my continued presence in my day job. The question does seem to come down to one of faith: faith that the net will appear; faith that everything IS, indeed, waiting for me on some far unknown shore.

    I like how David Whyte captures this in ‘Finisterre’:

    “…. to abandon the shoes that had brought you here
    right at the water’s edge, not because you had given up
    but because now, you would find a different way to treat,
    and because, through it all, part of you could still walk on,
    no matter how, over the waves.”

    Thanks for a wonderful post, Becky! You really deliver.


    1. Thanks, Adrian. Thanks too for posting the excerpt from Finisterre – the man has a way of capturing the essence of things, doesn’t he? And yes, you can find a different way to tread. You already have.