“To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else.” -Bernadette Devlin

Lately, I’ve been noticing how all the things in my life that make me unhappy can be boiled down into a simple category: what I lack. Relationships. Health. Character traits. Posessions. Achievements. Habits. The voids in my life are catching up with me.

And the simple truth of the matter is wallowing in these voids, these “nothings” does absolutely, well, nothing for me.

Zip. Zilch. Zero.

Nothing.

It’s amazing how much the baggage of so much nothing weighs, and once you notice you’re carrying it around everywhere, you realize how much space it takes up in every aspect of your life. In fact, it gets in the way. It’s the elephant in the room, and in my case there’s a whole herd of pachyderms.

I’ve recently started playing video games again after my friend and roommate introduced me to Skyrim. Yes the one with the dragons. Part of what attracted me to giving this storytelling medium a second chance for myself personally is that this game pretty much lets you do what you want, at your own pace, when you want to. You create your own character from the beginning. You select which skills you want to learn. You collect things. You explore. You sell the things you collect on you explorations to make money and buy other cool things. And indeed, all these things are necessary to continue in the game, but you craft your experience quite uniquely. It’s non-linear, organic feeling keeps you engaged. The game physics are believable (unlike Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball) and the limitations of the character, reasonable in a world where magic is real.

But if this entry is anything, it is not a review.

My point in bringing this up is, of course, illustrative. You can only carry so much “stuff” on your travels. The types or armor and weaponry you select define your skill sets and carrying capacity. They also force you to approach confrontational situations or puzzles in certain ways.

In order to collect some really cool items, sometimes you have to let go of other somewhat cool items that you can sell for cash. In order to carry more things, maybe you choose less armor and use archery or magical skills instead. Maybe you carry a shield, and maybe you decide to unleash your fury with dual wielding attacks. Maybe you enlist the help of a CGI friend so they can share the burden of fighting and carry your stuff. But whatever you choose, you can find a way to be successful provided you understand the benefits and drawbacks of why you’re doing what you’re doing in the manner that you’re doing it.

Same thing applies in the real world.

In order to collect cool experiences, you must decide to free up time, and maybe enjoy fewer material possessions. Or, if you are a fan of the creature comforts, maybe you instead decide to work a lot. Whatever you value.

This can be applied in less literal situations as well. Maybe in order to get the relationships you want, you have to give up bad habits that keep you back. Maybe in order to get the job you want you have to give up the one you have, or give up time to learn new skills. Dropping that baggage and kicking those dang elephants out may be the best thing after all. There’s more room for more interesting things that way.

Ok, so now I’m ready for newer, bigger and better things. Allons-y! Away with the baggage! But wait just a moment…

Here come’s the hard part: all your baggage is there because it’s useful. It’s helped you through situations before, protected you, comforted you and benefited you in one way or another. And you’ve made a place for it to stay. You have a system! You know which piece stacks on top of which other piece for maximum baggage toting efficiency!

All of a sudden you are confronted with a new situation in which you can collect a new COOLER item, achievement, or experience, or being with somebody who may actually be GREAT for you. Except, there’s a teensy little catch: you have to remove one or more pieces of that baggage to make it work, rendering your system useless. Completely and utterly useless. This can be and usually is frustrating. It requires figuring out, patience, time, and negotiating. New systems are made. Maybe new baggage will be acquired. More may be lost.

Perhaps efficient baggage management isn’t such a desirable skill after all. Perhaps the “letting go,” the scary, uncomfortable bits, are the times of greatest authenticity and growth possible in a lifetime. The mess is real. And these messy times hurt. I simply hope I leave this life, many years from now, with a net loss of baggage instead of a net gain. Maybe it gets shuffled around a lot, but I think it’s for the best.