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Reflection: The Loads We Carry . . . (Spring class Mar 27 – May 29)

March 22, 2015

(Spring Class, March 27-May 29)

People tell me I shouldn’t be so serious. I shouldn’t worry. I should relax and enjoy life. I should just be.

I’m working toward relaxing and not worrying, without letting go of my social and community consciousness, since many on the planet need help and the planet herself needs help. Worrying only about myself or expecting to only pay for my piece of the pie feels cold and uncaring. But that’s me and these are my politics, which means at our house we happily paid the art tax our city imposed. It means when our sewer and water rates went up to fund the world-class makeover of our city’s sewer system so we could end the dumping of raw sewage into our beloved river that runs through the middle of our populous, we ungrudgingly paid the tax. Have you ever considered what a miracle it is that anyone sleeps at night without the aid of drugs, given the enormous amount of worry material at our disposal? These are challenging times and keeping an internal equilibrium is tough because we can, and choose to, see what is going on around us. As I’ve become more vocal in asking questions or offering my opinion, I’ve been told to mind my own business. That bit about minding my business, it definitely galvanized me. I’ve spent years, as a daughter and a sister, as a citizen in my community, walking on eggshells so I didn’t hurt someone’s feelings. I’ve spent years showing up in the hopes showing up could make up for awful things friends and family had experienced. I spent years problem-solving and worrying and carrying secrets, as if someone else’s mental health belonged to me. Even though I’m no longer giving piggy-back rides across the river to every person who crosses my path, those habits took a toll and I have to watch if I want to practice being. Being galvanized doesn’t mean I shouldn’t, or won’t, write about things that matter. I will keep doing that. Recently, an image came to me:

Baby dolls all lined up with blankets, as if in hospital beds or orphanage dormitories. Each baby doll had a picture of one of my family members for a face.  Each morning I got up and straightened the bedding and tucked them in securely, deciding who to carry that day. As the daily tucking went on, I learned to see the difference between those who needed or wanted to be carried. I learned to notice which ones I wanted to carry and whether they would allow me to do so.  I gained an understanding of when it wasn’t safe for me to carry any of them because in my condition I might drop and hurt them, or because they were so toxic I’d be burned if I picked them up. Another day came, after much more practice, and I learned when I should let myself be carried, and by whom.

Lillybridge, Charles S., 1849-1935 - Denver Public Library Photoswest

Lillybridge, Charles S., 1849-1935 – Denver Public Library Photoswest

After practicing all the different ways of carrying and being carried, there came a wisdom about not trying to carry them all at once, and an ability to discriminate between carrying someone within the heart versus slogging up the steepest of steep hills carrying them on my back.  Finally, there came a mastery, so deep and warm and welcome, it felt like flying. Those moments of choice didn’t need strings, or ropes. There were no nets, just the flying across a warm summer sky to light on a branch in the tree overhanging the house.  Looking down, I could see the baby dolls all in a row.  I sat on the branch high above waiting until I decided what I was to carry that day. 

Not having played with baby dolls as a child, the image surprised me at first. But, it didn’t take long for me to smile as I realized there couldn’t be a more perfect representation of the actual burdens I once carried and then ungraciously rejected. Nowadays, there is lightness and agility in my choosing what to carry, safe in the knowledge there’s always room in my heart even when I don’t, won’t, or can’t pick someone or something up, and that most often not picking them up is a sign of deep respect.

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