The Life Lesson of Losing It All

It was a grueling 8 hour bus ride stretching across the Spanish country side.  Fueled with an odd mix of excitment and physical exhaustion, I was finally making my way back home to the United States after being gone for more than half a year.  I rode on a bus from Madrid to Barcelona, where I would then fly from Barcelona to Rome to Boston to New York, and then finally to Cincinnati.  I spent the 8 hours quietly reflecting on all the awesome memories I had just made; how quickly my life turned up-side-down from suburban Cincinnati to the sprawling Spanish lifestyle.

The bus finally arrived mid-afternoon in Barcelona, I went to the side of he charter bus to retrieve my luggage, only to see that is was not there.  Instantly, it hit me someone stole my luggage–the carrier that held all of my possessions.  My laptop, all my clothes, my shoes, toil nail clippers, tooth brush, and family gifts; everything.  I was left with nothing but the clothes on my back, a couple of books for the ride, and fortunately my passport

I stood motionless disbelief while feelings of distress swelled.  Why me, why now?  I was just about to be home in what felt like ages, why did this have to occur now.  I paced back-n-forth frantically trying to muster up some ideas of what I could do.  I walked over to the local booth to report the stolen lugagge, yet I could tell by the look in their eyes that these sorts of things had happened before, and retrievals were next to nil.

I walked away and an odd feeling emerged.  I slowly let out a wide grin and took deep cleansing sigh of relief.  As crazy as it sounds, it felt pretty good; I felt relieved.  There went all my possessions: my shoes, socks and underwear, my favorite shirts throughout the years, Christmas presents for my family, my computer that I had spent years adding to my music collection and personal documents–all gone–and yet then, only then, I finally felt free from the shackles of possessions.

I realized that that ‘stuff’ didn’t define me.  I looked back at the collection of experiences and memories I had just made over the past half year, and couldn’t help but feel a sense of magnitude that those played over my other ‘stuff.’  I then started laughing.  A feeling of elation swelled within me.  Those things wouldn’t define me; they weighed me down with distractions of things that seemed important, when really it was only experiences in life I was looking for.

Do you remember the jeans you wore 10 years ago?  The Nikes you rocked and spent hours to keep fresh and clean?  I bet not.  I certainly dont.  Sense of self is nothing but a collection of memories and experiences strung together.  Do everything you can to make them good ones.  Life is like writing a book; make yours as interesting as possible.