I remember climbing Mt. Pulag, feeling over-encumbered by the weight of my pack as I ascended the steep trail. And I thought to myself, Do I really need to carry all these things?
Often times, we carry too much baggage in our lives that they prevent us from moving freely, the way we choose to. This doesn’t have to mean literal baggage, it could be anything that we carry that wears us down, physically, emotionally, mentally, and all the other -ally’s.
Remember that episode of How I Met Your Mother? I think everyone has baggage, not only people in their 30s. And this baggage is something that we need to address before we are utterly squished by it.
In bicycling, it pays to be as lightweight as possible. Why else, are lighter bikes more expensive. It’s a known fact that in these kind of sports, the lighter the component is, the heavier it hits your wallet.
This also applies to distance running. Take a quick look at the top marathoners and ultra-marathoners and you’ll notice that apart from their muscly legs, they don’t really have a lot of body mass.
Because for their sport, carrying around unneeded weight, weight that doesn’t help improve their performance, is a waste. Carrying a few extra kilograms may not be that big of a deal for you, but for elite athletes, an extra kilogram carried over 42 kilometers can be the deterrent to a podium finish.
Okay, maybe I’m over-exaggerating, but it applies to different sports and disciplines as well. In boxing and MMA, we have weight divisions where fighters train to be at their most powerful inside a weight bracket. In powerlifting as well, competitors try to lift the heaviest weight while keeping their bodies as light as possible.
I can go on and on, but the main takeaway here is that these people are letting go of the unnecessary things in chasing their goals. Only the things that are important and prerequisite to performance are retained.
And this is something that can be applied to life as well.
I bet you’ve heard of the saying “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” And as I’ve pointed out above, running marathons is all about letting go of unneeded weight. So it should be in life as well.
Excess weight, excess baggage, does nothing but hinder our pace through life. In short, we have too much shit. And one of the best ways to let go of this shit is to give less fucks about a lot of things.
Are you always trying to please people, choosing safe opinions and even going against your beliefs just to keep others happy? Then you are being encumbered by the weight of what other people think about you. Newsflash: People don’t care about you as much as you think! So give less fucks about what others think about you and just be yourself. Disclaimer: Unless being yourself means being a dick. Don’t be a dick.
Afraid of trying new things? Sick and tired of your job but still bearing with it because you’re afraid that you might not get a better one? You, my friend, are being pinned down by the fear of failure. Maybe afraid of being embarrassed in public when you fail? Again, give less fucks, and take the risk. Let the fear of not trying overwhelm your fear of failure. Don’t let the weight of your fears stop you from progress. Take calculated risks!
Trying to do so much that you end up not doing anything at all? Having too many things going on in your life that you feel paralyzed? Sort out your priorities, choose the burdens you enjoy or are willing to carry and keep them. Let go of the rest.
Again, the main takeaway is to let go of useless things, both literally and metaphorically. Let go of all your negative thinking that isn’t helping you achieve your goals. Let go of your addictive habits that only serve to derail you from your hard work. Let go of the material things that distract you from the things you really want to do.
Weight to your advantage
However, there are certain circumstances where weight is beneficial for us. Actually, there are a LOT of situations where some burden can make us stronger. Just like the powerlifter is no stranger to heavy weights, we should also be comfortable with a little struggle. Life isn’t void of struggles, and we become better people by overcoming them. The key is choosing the right struggle, the right burden to carry.
The powerlifter isn’t pinned down by the weights 24/7, and neither should you. Learn when to be burdened and when to let go. Just like how strength training and resistance training makes us stronger, the occasional burdens of life are there to help improve ourselves.
Burdened by unemployment? Use your free time to build your empire. Burdened by debt? Learn a new skill to save money to get by. There are tons of people who discovered something new about themselves because they were put in a difficult situation. And there are also lots of people who have become successful despite being burdened by disabilities. Let the weight work for you, not against you.
Going back to Mt. Pulag, I realized that I had packed everything I needed and couldn’t risk letting go of anything in my pack. But that was a burden I chose to bear and I trudged on until I finished that climb. After that climb, most mountains after it has felt easier in comparison. Did I get stronger? Maybe. Was the struggle worth it? Yes!
Personally, I’m a minimalist person in general, but I do have a little bit of a hoarding habit, especially when it comes to notebooks and sentimental items (letters from friends, scrapbooks from exes). In order to achieve my 2016 goal of letting go of the inessential, I’m looking at the things that I can live without and trying to detach myself from a lot of sentimental items (Goodbye scrapbooks from exes?). Perhaps this is why I blog, to keep my memories somewhere that doesn’t take up too much space. Be creative in releasing your burdens because there are so many ways to let go.
So if you would like to join me on this journey of letting go, feel free. Take time every week to reflect on all the things you own, feel, and do. Figure out what’s important, then try to shave off a few things that aren’t really that essential on your journey of self-fulfillment.
I promise that this process of catharsis will be helpful for you in the long marathon called life. And I hope you go on through life not being encumbered by excess baggage, bringing only the essential things you choose to carry.