Having just gotten home from a triathlon training trip, I got thinking about the physical and rhetorical aspects of baggage, and how much we like to carry. Traveling by air these days forces one to make choices or face big charges for “extra” baggage. So many of us have a native tendency to overpack, but now we have to pay for that extravagance. It literally pays to travel light. But then there’s also the mental baggage we carry around with us…
Sometimes it’s hard to leave behind the work baggage we carry around inside our heads. It can take days to leave that stuff behind. By the time you’re free enough of the obligations rattling around inside your noggin’, it’s time to go back to work again.
Recently I made a decision to unleash some mental baggage strewn across the highway of my past. I’ve been a member of a locally run health club for the past year because our health insurance policy promised that we could join and be compensated up to $25 per month for membership. That’s exactly how much I was paying. It would have been a wash.
It turned out that only a small selection of clubs in our area actually work with our health care provider, so I absorbed the monthly fee the past year. We have a family membership at a much nicer park district facility near our house. That’s where we run and swim and lift.
So the local club membership attendance was being squandered. Plus the club is the same facility to which I’d belonged many years ago when a friend owned the place. I did the marketing for him and was a frequent visitor. But the upkeep these days was lacking compared to his fastidious style. The showers were ancient, creaky. The stalls themselves showed signs of rust, while underfoot the floors were squishy and did not appear clean. I’m no germophobe, but something about those showers gave me an “ick” feeling.
Beyond that, there were long-ago memories of the business dealings associated with the club. My friend sold the membership list to a real estate group. We planned to combine it with another club and strike a deal with a hospital to create a medically-affiliated health club. The deal fell through. Then the hospital stole the plans and built their own facility. At that point my contract with the group was dissolved and we all went our separate ways. That’s one of the tarsnakes of business. When you try new things, they don’t always work out. That all felt like baggage in my head because I could not help thinking about it every time I went back.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. There was also a member at the new/old club that I truly do not like. He was one of two guys from a former business networking group to which I belonged… who felt it was their duty to attack me online during the runup to the 2016 election. I’d see him now and then working out at the local club. Though I’ve tried to forgive him, the crappy things he said to me online were lodged in my brain. I’ll admit I’ve sent him a couple missives of my own, which isn’t an example of good character on my part. So I’ve decided to clean the slate of him, forgive him for being a jerk, and remove myself from any situation in which there might be contact.
Because it’s clear I could never change his mind about a single thing he believes, much less receive an apology for the insulting attacks he made toward me on political grounds. That’s baggage I don’t need following me around. Not at a health club. Or anywhere. I don’t wish the guy any harm. No point in any of that. But I also don’t need his brand of nastiness in my life.
So I stopped by the club and closed down my membership. Perhaps he would consider that “winning” on his part.
But in this life, so much winning is actually being mean enough to people they want to be rid of you.
In that case, I’m happy to “lose” and leave that baggage to soak into the dirty, soggy floorboards of a health club that really isn’t all that healthy for me. Who needs that kind of baggage?