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  • Writer's pictureEmma Norton

Bag Lady - Erykah Badu

Fun fact: I changed a flight for Ms. Badu once. 

Another fun fact: "Bag Lady" samples Dr. Dre's "Xxplosive" from his 1999 album 2001, based on the song "Bumpy's Lament" from the soundtrack to the movie Shaft, connects with my ode to Isaac Hayes and the film's theme written earlier, here.

The most fun of fun facts as of Friday, November 13th: Mama's Gun, the album where "Bag Lady" originates, turns 20 tomorrow, November 21, 2020. I preload content a few months in advance on the blog, and I had already positioned this piece to be released today without that knowledge. There is something to be said for synchronicity!

I had been debating in content prep which song I wanted to speak to within Erykah Badu's repertoire (first) and "Bag Lady" came on the radio when I was driving one day recently, so if that's not a blatantly direct sign, I don't know what is. To again mention the 20th anniversary of Mama's Gun, her presence in the music industry has been for most of my life. I always listened to her because of her coolness factor as I viewed it from childhood and adolescence. I liked the musical tribe she co-created songs with and still do. It is the resonance now at this juncture in my life where the lyrics click beyond the basics and her voice is as smooth as "Honey," another fave in regular rotation for me off of New Amerykah Part One (4th World War.) Some artists just become your ride or dies, whenever they find you or you find them. It's so fascinating to see how particular songs hit you at different times depending on where you are in your experience.

With "Bag Lady" I remember the hypocrisy I used to associate with the term "let it go." The people that were telling me to do just that were harboring their deeply rooted feelings, leading to resentments, and painful projections. The more we all learn to navigate our impact on one another, the more we can be brave enough to face what we need to let go of so that seemingly well-intended advice can be more genuine. It's lacking the awareness of the magnitude our issues can have on us as they continue to build and what we are told by the external that creates the internal conflict. 

I have always been able to decipher the hows and whys of others and held a candid softness (most of the time) toward them. It positioned me to be a 'good person' as I could see the good in others that were perhaps hidden. But I realized that my security blanket came from that apparent superpower as I continued to add the layers to my own deep wounds. They seemed frivolous and insignificant at times, but it's the growth of those initially minuscule pains in our baby brains that begin to shape our choices as we age. So ultimately, to "let it go" is to explore well beyond the 6 ft we dig for our graves that we lie in out of fear, repeating the same painful patterns, in a lack of self-awareness.

Baggage can be more obvious and it can be more subtle. It's whatever insanely limiting story you tell about yourself in the different arenas you play, personally, professionally, etc. Baggage can be people or memories of them. For me, it was the triggers they brought up in me where I was telling myself some foolish stories. I have been fortunate to be able to have cathartic conversations with myself through writing, with loved ones new and old that have revealed even more of the human condition to me. The decision to take this road less traveled has been of great benefit because for one, there is much less traffic and two, I desire to be in a position to inspire others to do the same on their terms. Not everyone has to cry on the regular as I do. It has been the greatest gift in learning how to let it all go because I see how the change in me also benefits those I love. 

I spent a period where everything was essentially thrown in my face to understand that even I, the self-described (and a bit cocky) wisest of souls held onto a lot of baggage. As an empath, we watch other's bags for them too (because sometimes you don't want to take your suitcase into the airport bathroom with you,) which can hinder our vision of self. For me having always held a more free-spirited mentality to put it simply, I became stunted in my growth because of my baggage, which led me to forcibly have to explore it. 

My desire to be unique, yet fit it into a normal perception has been my greatest downfall and setback in life. I can inspire, but I have felt so lonely too. I have often felt separate and when I settled into experiences because I felt some sort of attaching energy, they often played on my underlying insecurities rather than my strength. I can fit in anywhere and easily connect to people wherever I go, but it comes from that primal emotional understanding I have. My baggage associated with the innate ability I have that both connects me and separates me the most from others had begun to weigh me down immensely and played upon the inner distrust I carried.

Seeing the truth in others' is my best asset. But it is the burden of the self-imposed responsibility I would feel that hindered my connectivity with people in other areas. It was when I had an opening of my heart transpire that I started to see my protective shielding behind my embodiment, but also the hypocrisy associated with it. Seeing how the world primarily operates out of fear and from ego, as much as I am in my head, I can see how this heart-driven comprehension of life has been a part of my purpose. So much of the baggage we hold onto is purely the protection from our wounded egos. See, most people don't like that you can see certain parts of them beyond the mask they wear as their protection. When you start to reflect that back to them and it collides with your inner wounds, it's like packing your bags full of rocks. I collect rocks and other trinkets from nature when I am hiking, so I can attest to the heaviness of this metaphor. This is part of letting it go. You have to see the reflection of your negative stories before you project onto someone else and I realized a lot of my baggage came also from the juxtaposition of what I knew versus what I witnessed. My unique and compassionate view of the world perhaps separates me still, but I have come to appreciate it far more and my reality is authentically beginning to reflect that.

As Ms. Badu aptly puts it: Bet ya love can make it better and All you must hold onto, is you.

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