August 8, 2014

For 29 Years, My Backpack has been my Identity. ~ Carolynne Melnyk


Yesterday, I gave away my backpack.

For most people this would not be anything significant, but for me it is.

For the past 29 years my backpack has been tied to my identity. It represented who I thought I was—a gypsy, a traveller, a free-spirit.

I felt that as long as I had my backpack I was free. I could pack-up and go whenever I wanted. And I did!

Now, it was time to let go and move in another direction. Time for a new phase and new focus. Besides, my back was crying, “No More!”

As I placed the backpack on the donation pile, I sprinkled a little gypsy dust on it so the next owner would have safe and happy travels. I also felt a tear trickle down my cheek as I let go of my companion.

My backpack was my companion when I learned the following:

I learned who I was outside my family, social and cultural group.

We don’t realize how much our environment influences us. In the early years of my travels, every time I return home to visit family and friends I realized I became someone else. I wasn’t as open or relaxed as I was away from this environment. As soon as I got off the plane, I found myself trying to fit into what I thought other people expected of me.

It took years to let go of this perception and be myself. Now, I know who I am and very comfortable with that person. I don’t rely on others for my identity.

I learned to be happy with less.

You can only put so many things into a backpack. At one point I lived for 2 years out of my backpack. During that time my motto was, “If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t go.”

Little did I realize that this was teaching me the difference between needs and wants. It is so easy to get caught up in wants, which have a tendency to clutter up our life.

Life is so much simpler when we can let go of wants and focus our needs. It is amazing how much clearer and freer life is when we are not constantly worried about our possessions.

I learned to be at home wherever I was.

With no so called “permanent address,” I used to joke that home was where my backpack was. For many years all my worldly possessions fit into the pack, so yes it was my home.

When I would arrive somewhere knowing I was going to stay for a while, I could unpack in an instant and feel at home.

I have become very comfortable knowing home can be anywhere. Home for me is not a place, building or location: home is where I am.

I learned that things can change quickly and I can adapt. On August 2,1990 my life suddenly changed. On this date Iraq invaded Kuwait. I was working in Kuwait at the time and suddenly found myself without a home base, my professional documents or a job. But, I had my backpack, a few possessions and knew I would be fine.

And I was.

Things can and will be replaced.

I learned about adventures and experiences.

With my backpack I saw the sun rise over Kilimanjaro and came face to face with a lioness. I stayed in a houseboat on Lake Dal in Srinagar and drank chai in a riverside shack with a lovely family. I trekked to Machu Picchu and met an amazing shaman. I took a boat trip down the Amazon River and swam with the pink dolphins. I saw the pyramids, the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat and so much more.

I also saw extreme poverty and wealth, civil war, riots and injustices.

On the other hand, I was shown generosity, friendship, kindness and goodness.

Each of these experiences changed me in ways that are indescribable and have given me a zest for life, a compassion for everyone, and a different way of viewing the world.

Experiences are the only thing that we will take with us when we leave this reality.

I learned the freedom that comes from trusting in a Divine Intelligence. As a child, I attended church, until the day I realized that I could talk to the Divine Intelligence anywhere.

That was the day I knew I was never alone and I could trust in this force. I learned to “let go” of control and get into the flow of life!

I gave up the reigns of my life to a higher intelligence and began to enjoy the freedom of going along for the ride. This doesn’t mean I don’t plan, it does mean that I don’t have expectation on how things should turn out.

My backpack has been my companion on this journey. It has been a journey with many ups and downs, tears and smiles, but most of all is has been a journey of uncovering the beauty in and around me.

As I close this article the tears are welling up again, it could be in memory of my backpack and the extraordinary adventures we have had or perhaps it is just a surrendering to what lies ahead. I am ready to follow my inner guidance on the next adventure of my life without my backpack.

The greatest part of letting go of anything is that it makes room for something else to enter.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” – Tao Te Ching

What do you need to let go of, so that something new can enter your life?



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Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: davidd/Flickr

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