Make the journey with no excess baggage

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jeffrey L. Neuberger
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Chaplin
In the days of paddleboats on the Mississippi river, two boats departed Memphis for New Orleans. As they lumbered along, the crews from each paddleboat taunted each other about the snail's pace each was making on the journey. Soon insults were hurled, challenges made, and a race was on to New Orleans.

As they raced, one boat began falling behind due to a lack of fuel. The race was taking more fuel than the normal sailing speed. In order to continue the race, one of the crew started tossing the ship's cargo into the boilers. This fueled the paddleboat so the race could continue. However, by the time they reached New Orleans the material they had been assigned to transport had been completely destroyed, burned up in the boilers.

Each of us is on a journey through life, and yes, we have cargo. When I was a single young Sailor in the Navy I carried my entire 'cargo' on my shoulder in a sea bag. Within a few years I was amazed at the amount of cargo (stuff) I had collected, and by the time I made my many moves in the Air Force, my weight allowance was in the thousands of pounds. To be sure, there is a certain amount of baggage we have to carry in life.

Too often, however, we treat people as cargo, as baggage, as a burden. Regrettably, I've heard some people describe others in their life as "excess baggage." How unfortunate! Our families, our spouses, our children and our friends are not intended to be a burden but rather an expression of love, kindness and support on the journey through life.

We must be careful of turning our journey into a prideful race for a selfish prize. More importantly, we mustn't sacrifice our top priority for lesser ones "just to get there."

This week at Fairchild, in a newly painted and refurbished room in the Deel Community Center, another of many opportunities to care for others was offered to families of the base. The "Family Oasis" is the result of Col. Sharpy's concern that families be provided an informal setting to gather for new friendships, support and education about parenting, marital relationships, and find assistance with deployment stressors. This new effort joins the continuing efforts of the Airmen & Family Readiness Center, Family Advocacy, Mental Health, Family Member Programs flight, Health and Wellness Center and the chapel in taking care of the men and women and families of our wing.

On this journey, there's no such thing as excess baggage.