Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lost Luggage, Gained Wisdom

A lost luggage, is all it took to show me the fragility of ordinary calmness.

At first, it was easy staying magnanimous. No suitcase showing up at Carrousel 30 at Charles de Gaulle airport was no reason to sweat it. I even joked with the baggage claim lady. My suitcase had not made it in the plane in San Francisco, but had been tracked by the Air France computer. It had been rerouted through Minneapolis, then Amsterdam, and was on its way to Paris. I was assured "It will be delivered later today or tomorrow morning at the latest. Just call this number to check."

Later that night, phone call to the Air France number was met with casual response. "It usually takes 24 hours." No problem, I told myself, it's only a suitcase, and I can wait an extra day. I washed my clothes in the sink, and was glad for the disposable toothbrush provided by Air France. 

The next morning, several phone calls, and the wait turned into 48 hours. My new hat and gloves, my two favorite pants, my precious pashmina shawl, I could not have, at least not until Air France got its act together. I made a quick run to H&M for an extra change of clothes. The suitcase was starting to take up a lot of place in my mind. I found myself getting restless and annoyed.

The day after, more phone calls, and still no luggage. From annoyed, I became frustrated and ranted at the Air France folks for not caring more. I had enough sense to realize the source. Attachment, attachment, attachment was the real cause of my upset. I could use this unpleasant occurrence to investigate the mind's trappings.  Wanting the comfort of being able to use my things as planned, and also mistakenly counting on the permanence of possessions. Both desires trampled by the reality of the lost suitcase.

By the third day it became clear, I better plan for the suitcase not showing up at all. I replaced my whole wardrobe. Some of the restlessness was still there, but not enough to spoil my time in Paris any longer. The mind was starting to relinquish its grasp on the idea of 'my suitcase'.

Six days later, the suitcase has not yet appeared. We are going back home tomorrow, and I have reconciled with the idea of my luggage lost maybe for good. Little time gets wasted thinking, agitating about the suitcase. A quick phone call to Air France this morning, that's all.

How much the mind adds to life's unavoidable unpleasantness!


  1. such good teaching! and yes I am always shocked at how suddenly the veil of composure can be torn aside. humbling, that's for sure!

    wishing you the best of the season and new year (and perhaps some returned luggage?!)

  2. How nice of life to keep reminding us of how much work we still have to do - makes me think of the saying, "Think you're enlightened? Spend a week with your family!" Anyway, wishing you all the best for the season ... and that you get your suitcase back. I was surprised it didn't turn up the moment you replaced your whole wardrobe :)

  3. I know this is a good lesson. A few occasions my luggage arrived after me by a couple of days, but I am beginning to believe it is almost easier to buy at your arrival, then to lug it all around and be charged for it. Just carry it on, one change of clothes.
    You could have taken this on, as a hunt for cool new clothes you can afford like you were in college! Turn it around.

  4. Carole, yes, and that is the merit of householder life, out in the world, without the protection from the monastery walls. That the risk from outer disturbances, being much higher, keeps on presenting us with repeated opportunities to examine our reactivity and the truth about our place along the path . . .

  5. David, thank you. It is always heart warming to read your words here, or on Twitter. May you continue to practice well during this new year, and may you reap the merits from such practice!

  6. Was Once, of course you are right. I could have . . . and I didn't. Such small irritant is a great truth serum that puts one face to face with the reality of one's self . . .