Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Carry on baggage of a different sort

We all do it; tote around baggage, seen and unseen, weighed down, inhibited by a burden we can't seem to let go of. Sometimes we don't even know we're doing it, like the 13 years I spent carrying the loss of my stepfather's tragic death in my psyche, a dark, hulking heaviness that reared its head each year in February like clockwork.

On a recent walk along the Napa River Trail this man passed me, his breath labored and noisy from the aerobic demands of his fast pace and weighted vest, his gait akimbo under the self-imposed strain. In a hospice facility on the opposite coast, my (current) stepfather carries a burden of a different sort, invisible to the naked eye, but apparent none-the-less. Ailing and diminished from advanced cancer, he remains tethered to this earthly realm, reluctant to relinquish his role in my mother's affairs.

I've learned that what we choose to carry has ramifications that go far-beyond ourselves. And I ponder what role, if any, we each have in helping one another to lighten our respective loads.

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