Motivation and inspiration can come from anywhere. In this case, it comes from a motivational talk given by George Clooney in the film Up In The Air (2009) in which he plays Ryan Bingham. You can watch the speech in the video below or read it here too.
In the clip, the takeaway message is delivered using the metaphor “What’s In Your Backpack?” to extol the virtues of a life free of burdens like relationships with people as well as things, arguing that the best way to live is to travel light, with little to hold one down. To an extent, I completely agree. We all carry around unnecessary ’baggage’ with us which makes each day harder than it needs to be and holds us back from really doing what we want. Travel light and trust that the ‘secret’ to an easier life is that you don’t need to carry around your baggage!
Ryan Bingham Speech – “What’s In Your Backpack?”
How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel them? Now, I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things: the shelves, the drawers, the knickknacks, collectibles. Feel the weight as that adds up. Then, start adding larger stuff. Clothes, tabletop appliances, lamps, linens, your TV. The backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. Go bigger. Your couch, bed, your kitchen-table; stuff it all it there! Your car, get it in there. Your home, whether it’s a studio apartment or a two-bedroom house. I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now, try to walk. It’s kind of hard, isn’t it? This is what we do to ourselves on a daily basis. We weigh ourselves down, until we can’t even move and, make no mistake; moving is living. Now, I’m going to set that backpack on fire, what do you want take out of it? Photos? Photos are for people who can’t remember. Drink some Ginkgo and let the photos burn. In fact, let everything burn. And imagine waking up tommorow, with nothing! Is kind of exhilarating, isn’t it?
This is how I start every day of my life. Now, this is going to be a little difficult, so stay with me. You have a new backpack. Only this time, I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends, folks around the office. And then, you move into the people you trust with your most intimate secrets. Your cousins, your aunts, your uncles; brothers, your sisters, your parents. And finally, your husband, your wife; boyfriend, your girlfriend. Get them into that backpack. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to light it on fire. Feel the weight of that bag. Make no mistake, your relationships are the heaviest components in your life. You feel the straps, cutting into your shoulders. All those negotiations and arguments and secrets and compromises. You don’t need to carry all that weight. Why don’t you set that bag down? Some animals were meant to carry each other to live symbiotically over a lifetime. Star-crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not those animals. The slower we move, the faster we die. We are not swans. We are sharks.