When I awoke this morning, I greeted the day with my usual smile and enthusiasm. (Yes, I’m a morning person.) I took a deep breath, said good morning to the sun, then picked up my bag as I got out of bed.

My bag! That was the first time I was conscious of the fact there is a bag next to my bed that I pick up each day. By the way, you have one, too. Each of us has a bag we carry around with us in our mind, and we decide what’s in it. Picture a small, folded, brown paper bag. (For us older folks, the image of a penny-candy bag will do the job.)

Through the day, I make decisions on whether to toss things as I go, or if they are worthy of going in the bag.

The bag is for things to remember, for storage of things that I’m not ready to deal with just yet.

It seems the older I get, the better I am at leaving things out of the bag. Some things get tossed before they have a chance to be unnecessary weight, things such as offense someone tries to give me or things that have negativity attached to them. I prefer to leave them somewhere else.

Some things I organize to deal with in a more appropriate place, like work things left at work and commitments left on my calendar or to-do list. That’s the easy stuff.

The next step is the sorting process. This is where the real effort begins.

I have several “bags” based on the traffic pattern of my life. My most important ones are located at critical onramps where I enter my vehicle, my home and my bed.

The bags are labeled with three R’s: Refer, Remember and Rubbish. I sort through my brown-paper bag and separate items accordingly. It is important to toss the Rubbish bag in the incinerator immediately. The items in the other two bags go back in the little bag and get more thorough attention later.

Bag maintenance is similar to cleaning a computer, and we do it unknowingly all day — deleting junk and condensing the rest.

Then there are working files, such as things I might need to refer to as part of ongoing projects, and reminiscence, like pictures in photo albums. Once the sorting process is complete I compress the files. What’s left takes up no space at all and is light as air. That is what is in the little bag I place by my bed at night.

I occasionally go through the contents of the bag and realize some things aren’t necessary or worth keeping.

Other items need to be categorized differently as their importance has changed with time. In my life this process occurs a little bit on a daily basis, but more significantly on the first of each month, during full moons, at the changing of seasons, with the start of a new year, etc.

If you look back you will find patterns and cycles of major change occurring in your life. The older one gets the more apparent they become.

I wish I could say I have perfected the process of keeping my little bag uncluttered and light. Some mornings the little bag is difficult to lift. That means stopping and spending time on bag maintenance. It might require nothing more than a few deep, cleansing breaths.

Sometimes it necessitates a morning or day off, which might include a trip to the spa, lunch with a friend and a yoga class. If I’ve been especially lax on bag maintenance, it might take a weekend retreat or a full-blown vacation to lighten the load. Each of us is our own best physician when it comes to the exact prescribed activity, or lack thereof, to complete the bag-ectomy.

Every morning, when I get up, I pick up my little bag from beside my bed. Everyone has their own little bag they carry around each day. Everyone fills, organizes and maintains their bag in their own way. None of our bags has identical items in them, but the process we each go through to keep them as light as air is the same. If we maintain our bag well, we get to pick up what feels like an empty bag each morning. May your bag always feel empty. Namaste’.

Debbie Lee Townsend is a Hawkins resident.

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