Reflections From A Coffee House-Taking the Life Journey Lightly

I am now in Wittenberg.  In the past 24 hours I have been in auto, plane, bus and train. When I arrived in Wittenberg the train station was closed and no taxis were available so I walked into old town and found my room.  I cannot move into the apartment until Friday.  I am about to have my first meal in Wittenberg in the Gasthaus restaurant, and, yes, I am having German beer.  I’m even using my German (haltingly, but I am using it. )  

While on the train I sat with a man who is a rail road engineer (he at one time did drive the trains but his engineering is the kind that designs the systems) and provides engineering design and support to the German railroad system.  He grew up in the former  East Germany and so has worked with the trains through the whole communist era until now.  I learned a lot about railroad design in our short train trip together.  He retires next year.  Fascinating and gracious man.  We, of course, exchanged grandparent stories.  So fun.

So I am here and the journey deepens.  What have I learned about me, life and the world in the past 24 hours?  Well, after lugging my suitcase up three flights of stars at the Gasthaus I learned that I am still not good at packing.  I hate making choices.  I usually want to take everything; just in case.  However, the airlines seem to think that you should only take 50 pounds of anything without having to take out a loan. 

So, I literally spent weeks in the packing process.  I made lists of what I was going to bring.  I made the decision that I would take enough clothing for eight days and that would be it.  Sounds simple.  But, then I think, I need a giant bottle of Listerine and four bottlles of shower wash (yes, I know they sell these things in Europe but they won’t have what I am used to, I think) and the list goes on. 

Then I bought one of those luggage scales that you hold in your hand to lift the bag and measure the weight.  So, I started at what I thought was 60 pounds.  That meant making painful choices and caused the removal of many articles (including the giant bottle of Listerine).  Thought I had it down to 45 pounds (according to the hand scale) and proceeded to check in.  And, it weighed in at 56 pounds (which is precisely what my daughter, Kristen, said but I didn’t believe her).  I’m going to throw the scale away.  With a great deal of rearranging and a bit of throwing things away I finally got the bag weight where it was supposed to be and could check in.  Painful.  Painful.

So, one of my goals for this experience is to reflect on life and to draw learning from the day.  By the time I got through security I was thinking about a book I read seven years ago called Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load For the Good Life  by Richard Leider and David Shapiro.  The premise was that we need to periodically review our life with the intention of casting off the things we no longer need and put into our life only those things that are essential.  Since reading the book I have cleaned, pitched and pitched some more.  I was carrying way too much.  Learning to travel lightly has been a goal of mine but it continues to be a difficult challenge.

Well, today I repacked my bags numerous times and I think it was good for me.  I am learning to live differently.  However, as I schleped that bag up three flights of stairs I wondered if I had learned it yet.


  1. How is your bag of life?  What’s in it?  Can it be lightened?
  2. How do you go about figuring out what to get rid of and what to keep?
  3. What does traveling lightly mean to you?

Your answers to these questions will truly be helpful to me. 

Peace to you!

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