The Invisible Luggage

man in bus
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People move a lot, generally. Move from a house to another, from a city to another, from one country to another. But why do they do that? What is it that makes them choose “the moving” move?

In my experience people move because they believe that somewhere else they will feel better. They will have a better job, better friends, better living standards, better experiences, and so on. For many though, moving, does not necessarily mean a change for the better. When you move, you don’t take with you just the visible luggage such as suitcases or parcels sent by post, you also take invisible luggage such as culture, values and past experiences.

Some experiences are good to have whilst others are best left behind. Sometimes we need to just put them aside until the right time comes to be taken out again, as we need to heal and say good-bye to them for good, if we don’t want them to stand in our way. How do we manage to do that? To leave behind experiences, habits, ways of being? It is like one would be asked to leave behind a foot or a hand. All the invisible parts of us are just as painful to let go as it is to have a limb cut off.

When a visible wound appears, one needs time and patience for healing. People go to the doctor and take painkillers, in order take away the symptoms.  But when it comes to feelings, ideas, culture, experiences, behavior, which are “invisible”, things get complicated. Even with the right support from people around us, sometimes we are unable to accept the support. We can be toughest judges of ourselves. We can be stuck and full of invisible old patterns that we do not manage to take in new ones. Just like a cup. In order to be filled up, it must be emptied out first. If we are already “full”, how can we take in new knowledge and experiences? What if the things that fill us are invisible? As they are invisible, we do not go to see a therapist who can help us empty the cup.

Observing people around me, the invisible stuff can be just as painful as a physical wound. But instead of letting that pain out, and live it despite the hurt, people prefer to hide it deeply into their hearts, and cover it with different distractions: wine, food, cigarettes, laughter, smiles, drugs, shopping, traveling, and other things which make us feel good. The illusion of feeling good and coping, makes us believe that everything is fine, and we never speak of them.

If they are spoken about, they can become ways in which we accuse others. It is the other’s fault. It is easier to point the finger at others than face our own invisible wound.

This invisible luggage tends to create the new reality in the new country, and somehow it shapes the new environment. Some may feel that the only thing they changed is their geographical place on the map, or the language, or the system of rules to follow in the working world. Otherwise, the experiences they run from stay the same. The histories repeat themselves even thousands of miles away from the country of origin, in another language, and with other people.

To avoid this, some groups stick together. Usually these are people who did not learn nor they can speak the language of the new country that well. It is easier that way. To gather and be together, to create a similar environment with the one experienced in the country of origin, makes the adjustment to a new country much easier. Here, at safety, old values keep on living longer. People do not entirely disregard the values in their new country but they keep judging and comparing themselves using the values they had in the country of origin.

For some this is a good thing, as it keeps them alive and sane. Having a platform where you are validated according to what you know, is a creative way of surviving in a “hostile” environment where even if you speak the language so that you can function, it is still difficult to understand the underling values.

Have you ever thought about your invisible luggage that you carried from your country of origin to the adoptive one? Is it easy to find it within yourself?  I know it wasn’t easy to find mine.

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