Huh. Just found this in my drafts folder from a couple months back. Guess I never hit Publish.


Nat Goldberg.

There are few writers that I count on to bring me out of a rut every time. Why she is one of them, I don’t even know, but she is indeed that buoy that brings me back to the place where my heart and my mind still connect with my pen. Or my tingly fingertips.

In Thunder and Lightning, she challenged her retreat students to write about what they carry. There was a bit more buildup than that, but you know… go read the book.

I took it and ran, and below is the uncut, the rough, just because.

I’m not a big fan of sharing my experimental writing forays. Too much horn-tooting or vulnerability, or if we’re being honest, both. But this one felt nice to write, and it was a shining example – to me – of Nat’s power over my run-away-from-the-keyboard tendencies. To you, well, it is what it is. I’ll share, just this once.

An aside:
I realize (shhhhht…… I’m confessing here) that I dodged her request pretty stealthily, which I am prone to do. I like to write about the collective We

You indulges my people-watching demon and gives free reign to my judgmental self. In general, not an area I’m too thrilled to experiment in. Keep me on the safe side of the tracks, please. If ever I’m in the second person, there is a good chance I’m caving to my baser, less-attractive side. 

And I flays me open beyond my comfort level. The scalpel is sharp and I am quick to lynch myself, to excise myself from the rest of humanity. I morph into a bit of a martyr, and I don’t enjoy airing my loads out there for all to see. Unless sheathed in a protective layer of humus and humor. Then all bets are off.

So We is where I live. Identify, but not too closely. Keep the connections to the fellow man intact. We is safe. Still, be nice to the uncut me.

Yes, I’ll tackle my own personal packsack of burden, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t show up here. It’ll have to remain content to live within my password-protected vault of a journal. It’s best for all of us. 

If the inventory turns up broad and generic, devoid of all woe-is-me and whatnot, even when employing the dreaded I, I’ll think about sharing. Don’t hold your breath.

What do I (ahem… WE) carry?

We carry our pasts, every one of us, through the trenches of this life. No matter how we might try to leave them behind, how we kick against the pricks, or wish away the hurt, or excuse away the wrong turns, there it is, in our back pockets, trailing along like toilet paper on the bottom of a shoe. We carry everyone we’ve ever loved, we carry the weight of their lives on ours, sometimes the soft impressions they left for love to fill in, sometimes the dents and divots they left, that we hope love will still fill in.

We carry our parents, we carry our childhood homes, every room. We carry the kitchen table and the toaster cover and the silverware that kept us fed. The hands that cared for us, the minds and souls who looked after our minds and souls. We carry them all within is, waiting to be recognized, thanked, redeemed.

For many there is a carrying of other people’s hurts, of other people’s mistakes, of other people’s carry-on baggage, left behind irresponsibly, no one to pick it up and nurse it back to life but us. So we do. We carry the weights that others cannot, for better or for worse. We take on more than we should, and then we run from burdens that we can, and should shoulder, and then we take on the damages done by taking on too much, and too little. We carry our indecision, and we carry our decision, and both leave us changed.

We carry our grudges, we carry our conceits. We carry our stubborn insistence on being right, and we carry all that we miss out on for our inability to be wrong. We carry the love of a thousand generations, whether we want it or not. We carry the imprint of a God we may or may not believe in. We carry the inborn Spirit, beckoning to us from within, whispering and wooing and crying when we plug our ears. We carry the burden of making our own choices, of being fully human.

We carry the world. With each decision, and each act of love or not love, we carry the world further down the road to salvation, or farther back. We carry the future, in every thought and prayer and contemplation and struggle.

We carry one another.


GO (read some) NAT.

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