Repacking Your Bags

posted April 9th, 2010 by Janet Graham - One Comment

Repacking Your Bags by Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro is subtitled “Lighten Your Load for the Rest of Your Life.  


At the beginning of the book, the authors include a quote from Carl Jung who cautions, “we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning — for what was great in the morning will be little at evening,  and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.”


Leider and Shapiro say without realizing it, they had given in to our culture’s view of adulthood — “that the person you are at mid-life is the person you will be for the rest of your life.”


“We found out, though, that the program for “afternoon” and on into the evening lies within us. To discover this program, we must turn our gaze inward. To know where we are on the trip, where we want to go, and how to get there, we must learn to count on an inner sense of direction.”


We must unpack and repack our bags.


“Unpacking simply means taking a long, hard look at what we’re carrying and why. Seeing if our possessions, responsibilities, and relationships are still helping us move forward, or if they’re dragging us down.”


“Repacking, then, is the ongoing activity of reevaluation and reinvention. Rearranging our priorities. Reframing our vision of the good life. And recovering a new sense of being alive.”


They say what is really missing in most people’s lives is a sense of joy. People find they no longer feel an authentic joyfulness in living, despite all the fun stuff they have or do.


They believe how we live the next phase of our lives is not just a question of personal lifestyle but of what we care about. They define the good life as an integration of place, love, work and purpose. “To put it simply, the formula for the good life is: Living in the Place you belong, with the People you Love, doing the Right Work, on Purpose.”


Zen master Suzuki said: “I’m an artist at living, and my work of art is my life.” And Leider and Shapiro say: “People who are “artists at living” are bold enough to question the status quo — to accept that someone else’s truth could be a lie for them. They are also willing to recognize when their own truths have become a dead end, in which case they demonstrate the courage to let go. They accept what they can from an experience and move on.”


The book is based on imagining life as a journey and thinking about its components in terms of the various bags we are carrying. The authors say people carry three different bags. These are:

  1. A Briefcase — your Work baggage.
  2. An Overnight Bag — your Love baggage.
  3. A Trunk — your Place baggage.


“To really unpack, you need to open each bag and examine its contents. The best way to do this is in a dialogue with someone else — preferably the person most likely to be affected by any decision or choices you make.”


The authors say: “Ultimately, it comes down to a series of trade-offs. What are you willing to trade in one area of your life to get what you want in another?” The book is structured to allow you to assess how much you are willing to carry and decide what stays and what goes. The unpacking process is a matter of reviewing what you have and considering each item in light of the trade-offs you have to make to keep it.  Repacking becomes a matter of finding the right balance between the important priorities in your life.


The book is based on the concept of taking a journey with the requisite unpacking and repacking of bags, a trip checklists and sending postcards to a “Dialogue Partner”. Sometimes, it feels like this analogy has been stretched to its limits, however, I liked the book and believe the authors are on the right track in challenging us to think about the journey we are embarking on in the afternoon of our lives.


I hope you enjoy it!! Please share your thoughts, comments, questions, feedback on this book or any other in the Resources section of the Forums.

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One Response to “Repacking Your Bags”

Comment from Phoebe
Time April 9, 2010 at 1:25 pm


This is very timely for me! I recommend “Darjeeling Limited” as a movie by Wes Anderson about baggage.


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