unencumbered

Some girls are natural, low-maintenance travelers. They throw a few things in a bag and they’re good to go, ready for a weekend of adventure. They’re breezy and light, “no big deal” type of people. They are the epitome of traveling light, little to weigh them down.

I’m simply not that girl.

I’m the other girl, the one the first girl goes to when she spills a drink and needs an extra shirt. Or when she has a hangnail and she doesn’t have a pair of nail clippers in that tiny bag she packed.

I don’t particularly like having an overpacked bag, but I’m driven by the need to be at least a little prepared. Because heaven knows if I don’t bring a bandaid, I will most certainly get a monster of a paper cut. And if I only bring one pair of shoes, I will undoubtedly step in a puddle during a thunderstorm and end up with soaking wet shoes that refuse to dry.

And so I pack all the things, with their accompanying chargers, and extra clothes, and things I think might be useful to traveling companions. I find myself adding to a bag at least two books (because what if one of them isn’t that good?) and a notebook (what if I want to write?) and a laptop (what if I want to write on my laptop?) and a puzzle book (for in the car/plane, if I don’t want to read) and a bottle of Airborne (because there’s a 99.99% chance I will get sick if I don’t take it).

I lug my big bag or suitcase around and gaze wistfully at the woman swishing by with a tiny bag. She looks so carefree, that woman. So unencumbered.

But then I think… I bet she’s got a hangnail that’s driving her crazy.

My worries are light when my bag is full, ready for whatever life may throw at me while traveling. I’ll take an unencumbered mind over a light bag any day.

If you need me, I’ll be lugging around an overstuffed bag as I steal my husband away for a few days to celebrate his birthday. Wonder how many books I should pack for him…

When Tragedy Strikes

Confession: I cringe every time a tragedy occurs, and not just because of the tragedy itself.

As if the loss of life isn’t devastating enough, what makes it worse is the aftermath. The speculation, the debate, the blaming. In the blink of an eye, people’s deaths become a case study, supporting evidence for any number of agendas. People die, and the world explodes with theories of why it happened and how it could have been prevented.

I’m not saying that’s not a worthwhile discussion. It’s absolutely necessary to study tragedies to figure out how to prevent them.

But I’m saying, people died.

People.

Human beings.

Can we just take a moment to mourn them before we jump into opinions and theories? Can we acknowledge the human beings who are no longer here?

Daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, parents, spouse, friends.

People who had plans for tomorrow, and next week, and next year, who were looking for the opportunity to learn and grow. They had ideas of what they wanted to be and do with their lives. But those lives are now gone, cut short. They expected to have a tomorrow. But tomorrow was taken from them.

Today there are nine families who are forever changed. From now on, something will be missing for them. Someone. They will feel an ache for the rest of their lives, a burden of grief that will eventually lighten but never completely fade.

Their loved ones are not a statistic to them.

Every time a tragedy occurs, I read about the victims. I learn who they were. I guess I feel like I owe it to them to learn their names, see their faces, so they don’t get lost in the noise, buried by a mountain of opinions and political maneuvers.

I’m all for solving problems. I’m all for preventing tragedy. But let’s not lose our humanity in the process.

Today I acknowledge the lives of Lucero Alcaraz, Treven Anspach, Rebecka Carnes, Quinn Cooper, Kim Dietz, Lucas Eibel, Jason Johnson, Lawrence Levine, and Sarena Moore. (You can read more about them here.) My prayers are with their families.