Baggage and A Cliche

There is one thing we all have in common despite age, gender, religious beliefs, sexual preference, race, economic status, and any other box we push each other into and that’s baggage. We all carry around baggage we’ve accumulated throughout our lifetime. We may hide it in the darkest corner of the biggest closet hoping the cliche is true: out of sight, out of mind.

Well, I will be the one who lays it on the table for you. You can’t stuff away life’s baggage. One day, you’ll open that closet in search of a special outfit for the most special occasion and the baggage will peak its head around that favorite dress you’ve saved for years because someday it’ll fit again.

Baggage doesn’t disappear, but we can lighten its load.

For the past several years, I’ve completed a baggage activity with my students. I start the lesson by explaining to my students that we all carry baggage that weighs on hearts and minds. One person’s baggage could be testing anxiety while another’s could be hunger and another’s could be parents who fight. The weight of one person’s baggage can’t be (and shouldn’t be) compared to another’s. It’s possible what’s baggage for one individual wouldn’t be baggage for another, and we shouldn’t allow that to invalidate each other’s experiences, feelings, and emotions. Then, on notebook paper, I have students write down one piece of baggage they are carrying. Students are told not to write their name on the paper and to ball it up when they’re done writing. Once everyone has balled up their paper, they throw it across the room. Students then pick up a paper ball that landed near them. Each student unravels the paper ball they grabbed and read it aloud to the class. After they’ve all read, I ask students to share their thoughts, feelings, or emotions. Usually, at least a few of them shed tears, but all of them extend compassion to their classmates. This simple activity allows my students to feel seen and not alone. It affirms their humanity.

At the end of class, I pass around a bag and students put their balls of paper in the bag. I hang the bag in a place in the room. If students come to school with baggage in the future, they can write it on paper, ball it up, and put it in the bag.

I wrote this poem using the baggage my students have shared over the years. Words they trusted their classmates and me to hear. May their baggage help you feel seen, not alone, and inspired to extend compassion to everyone you meet no matter how big or small they may be.

The Cliche Goes

The cliche goes, kids say the darndest things.
I agree.
Sometimes they do,
and sometimes the darndest things
make adults laugh.

I have a pet horse. 
Its name is Mayo Neighs. 
Get it - mayo-neighs.

Indeed, kids say the darndest things.
Sometimes the darndest things
are filled with sugar
and feed 
the adult ego.

Oh, you got glasses.
You look beautiful
And young like a teenager.

I agree, kids say the darndest things.
Sometimes the darndest things
ignite a fire of hope 
and promise in the
hearts of others.

Love is like fireworks
for your heart.
It’s everlasting hope.

Indeed, kids say the darndest things.
Sometimes the darndest things
carry inspiration
for a more empathetic
world.

I want a chance to meet
new people - to learn
about their life.

The cliche goes, kids say the darndest things.
I agree.
Sometimes they do,
and sometimes the darndest things
make adults cry.

Everything about Autism stops me
from being the best version
of myself.

Indeed, kids say the darndest things.
Sometimes the darndest things
are filled with anxiety 
and deflate
the adult ego.

I feel like
I’m always rushed
to grow up.

I agree, kids say the darndest things.
Sometimes the darndest things
ignite a fire of sympathy 
and distress in the
hearts of others.

My mom died.
My dad left.
I want to die.

Indeed, kids say the darndest things.
Sometimes the darndest things
carry shame
due to an entitled 
world.

I have been bullied
even by adults because of
my weight and skin color.

The cliche goes, kids say the darndest things.
I agree.
Sometimes they do,
and sometimes the darndest things
should bring us joy.

Indeed, kids say the darndest things.
Sometimes the darndest things
are a cry for help
and should 
stop us in our tracks.

I agree, kids say the darndest things.
Sometimes the darndest things
should ignite a fire of contemplation 
and reflection in our
mind and heart.

Indeed, kids say the darndest things.
Sometimes the darndest things
are a divine message
and meant to deliver 
change.

The cliche goes, kids say the darndest things.
I agree.
Sometimes they do,
and sometimes the darndest things
rattle our
hearts
and affirm
our 
humanity.

3 thoughts on “Baggage and A Cliche

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