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Seven bags, large suitcase, purse, three hats and a therapist

How did I get into this?

I asked myself that question after being lost in a blizzard in Denver for an hour and half. My plans were to pick up a friend in Denver, then off to a four-day writer’s conference in Estes Park, where I would pitch my book to the publishing houses and editors.

I had worked night and day getting ready for this writer’s conference. My two bags were tidy and organized, my manuscript was polished and I was ready.

When I finally arrived with poor instructions, I was greeted with a pile of things in the doorway. I saw one big suitcase, purse, three hats and seven open bags with a variety of things falling out of them. There was sticking up and out, hangers among shoes and underwear in one of the bags. Another bag sported a CD player with tapes, makeup and sweater. And the bags go on and on.

I looked at all her bags and I said, kindly, “I thought you were a traveler. Apparently you have never learned how to travel.”

She answered, “Oh, I do travel. I am used to traveling and living out of my car.”

“So, let me help you take your stuff to the car,” I said as we made three trips.

When we arrived at the conference, everyone was having a bad day. In my mind, I just wanted to leave. If I had not paid for the conference, the room and meals, I would have left. But, being practical, I knew I had to see it through — besides, I had the car and I couldn’t leave my friend stranded with all of her stuff. Mind you, she was going to live out of my car for four days. We made multiple trips getting her things to the room.

This friend continued to lose things and in so doing she searched every bag, every time. She couldn’t find her room key, her watch, her tapes and her medicine. She had left her medicine at home. She called her husband who made a special trip to bring her meds.

I was watching this friend and thinking, “I thought she was more together, but of course, I have never traveled with her, just have had lunch with her on several occasions.”

About this time, traveling with sweet Al was looking better and better. I thought to myself, “I’ve got to apologize to Al for the hard time I give him. Where is my sweet Al? He would be carrying his bags and mine too. Instead I am carrying hers.”

The conference continued. Mind you, my friend is a therapist, with a degree. She counsels people who can’t get their lives together. She needed counseling. I didn’t come to counsel her; I came to pitch my book.

My friend continued to baffle me. She wanted to write and had one thing she wrote about twenty years ago. Why was she at the conference? On the way home, she misplaced a bunch of CD tapes she had just purchased. Halfway down the mountain from Estes Park, we had to turn around and go back. Trying to retrace our steps to find her tapes, I once again shook my head and wondered how she could be counseling others when her own life was such a mess.

When we reached Denver’s city limits, she said she knew the way to her apartment. We missed the road and wandered through downtown Denver. Four days earlier I had driven Denver streets looking for this place, now I was lost again. Her husband was laughing when we reached their home and he said, “That’s my wife.”

I looked back to see if we had left anything. She had left one of her bags sitting on the sidewalk. I walked back to the car and picked it up. I was not as tolerant as her husband. So I delicately and tactfully asked her, “What the heck is going on? You’re a mess. You’ve got to get your act together. I won’t be traveling with you again.”

She said, “Oh, you don’t mean that, do you?”

“I think I will bring Al next year.” I said.

After the lost tape incident, she finally had a breakthrough; enlightenment came to her in the morning light. Good thing, I was about to have a break down in my darkest night.

This seventy-four year old therapist began to self-analyze. She came to the conclusion, “My life is like these seven bags, I have been stuffing stuff into my life for years, trying to figure out who I am and what I need to be doing with my life. I keep looking through these bags trying to figure out what it is I am looking for. I keep wearing a different hat. The medicine represents the wellness of my soul, and the thing I needed the most, I left at home.”

She was so excited about her new discovery; she said she had to write about it.

I said, “Me too.”

She called this week. She hadn’t written a thing since we came back from the writer’s conference. So much for her enlightenment!

For me, I was looking for a publisher and for answers to this world of writing. I found a publishing house that will publish my book but, most important, I kept looking for my Al and all his bags.

It’s a funny thing: we have the best thing sitting in the chair next to us and we don’t recognize it until we are put to the test of unfamiliarity.

Final brushstroke: Would we really want to change someone else’s bags for ours? I’ll keep my sweet Al. I’ve grown accustomed to his sweet face and all his stuff.

Artist’s quote

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. Life is a grindstone. Whether it wears you down or polishes you up depends on what YOU are made of.” — Zig Ziglar.


Please send your comments to See my work on and read other articles from the Artist’s Lane on Coming shortly, probably late summer! My book, The Mysterious Life of Mary Magdalene.

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