Post by Susan Mwarabu
What happens when you have extra baggage at the airport? You pay extra, you get disgruntled and whatever trip you are embarking on is suddenly clouded by an air of frustration as you incur extra fees. Even if you are lucky enough to deal with a more gracious ticketing agent who might give you some plastic bags that you can put your extra items in to carry onto the plane, you are then stuck opening your suitcase for the whole world (or at least everyone else waiting in line) to scrutinize as you take items out, weigh the suitcase, take more items out and keep going until you eventually meet the weight limit. Regardless of the situation, lugging around extra baggage–at the airport or elsewhere–is usually a hassle.
It has a price.
It is inconvenient.
It weighs you down.
It ruins your mood.
It can ruin your day.
It can ruin your life.
Of course, extra baggage at flight check-in probably won’t ruin your life, but extra baggage in general (and in mostly figurative terms) does have the potential to take a toll on your life’s happiness. For ex-offenders, extra baggage can and often does feel like an unmanageable weight. For this reason, perhaps the most important lesson an ex-offender can ever learn is to let go of extra baggage.
The act of letting go means that you accept what has already happened. You cannot go back in time and change it. You have hopefully learned from your mistakes and though you may regret past choices, it is not wise to dwell in the past entirely. Eventually, the only way to move forward is to focus on the here-and-now and to leave your extra baggage behind before you board your next flight.
Acceptance that your life will change after incarceration is a critical step in the process of letting go of extra baggage. For example, there will be difficulties along the reentry road: getting a job might be challenging; obtaining housing might also be a complicated and frustrating endeavor. Alas, these and other challenges are simply part of the process and you will be much more likely to overcome these difficulties when you have accepted them and can focus all of your energy on surmounting them. Letting go of all the extra baggage that builds up when you dwell in regret and resentment of your current situation is an important step in the process of moving beyond your past.
Amicus offers a variety of programs that help ex-offenders to come to terms with their past and to find tools to move forward. One such program is the Monday night Support group that creates a safe space for ex-offenders to talk about the challenges they are facing when trying to reenter the community. The Reconnect program also provides services designed to help ex-offenders with many reentry challenges–including finding housing, employment, transportation, et cetera.
Letting go of your extra baggage will save you time and frustration and, most importantly, it will re-direct your focus to the present–and to the future, where the horizon is infinite.