Carry Only What is Yours

“Let go of all those things that you are carrying around that aren’t yours.”

In this morning’s guided meditation, the guide gave that instruction. And I began to wonder what I am carrying around that isn’t mine.

I could tell that I’m carrying around too much because my shoulders have been too tight and my neck has been hurting. But the way that she phrased it made me recognize that some of the things that I am carrying around don’t belong to me.

Carrying around worries about my nieces and nephews. If you think about young people enough, there is always something to worry about. They don’t live perfect lives any more than the rest of us do.

Carrying around worries about the elderly people in my life.

Carrying around worries about people who aren’t elderly, who are struggling with fears and challenges. People I care about and so I care for them, carrying some of their burdens whether they recognize it or not. And whether they want me to or not.

Carrying around worries about work, about how to make things better. About the people who are suffering because of things that have happened or are happening at work, things they and I have little control over. Because, after all, we really have control over so little in our lives.

Shouldering worries about the world, about conflict in so many places; about selfish, dishonest politicians; about people who blindly follow; and about people who blindly command. And about troubles to the earth herself, the pain and suffering she has experienced through human action and inaction.

But deeper than that: expectations of the people in my life, or even my parents who are no longer around to have expectations but programmed those expectations into me. What kind of life I should have, what I should choose to do with my life, how I should live. Even rebelling against their expectations, I carry them around with me. And their fears, that I carry around, fears about people; and how to act around people to preserve safety.

And shame that I carry around, not my shame – the shame that someone else felt about who he was, that he thought he could pour into me, so that I would carry it instead of him. And all this time, I have carried it, deep inside me.

And the violence that has been imposed on me, carelessly, without consequence. Not my violence, violence someone else found in their life and carried around, wielding it as a weapon. Used against me as a way to get what they wanted. And I have been carrying since that day.

The pain that someone else felt, the pain of rejection and cruelty, the pain that they thought they could use against others to get what they wanted, what they thought would make them feel better. They used it against me, to try to break me down. And I have carried it for her since then.

And now I let it go. Let it all go.

I let go of the need to fix things. The need to fix people. I release the need to make things better all the time. I release the need to solve people’s problems for them. I recognize that they have agency, that they own making things better for themselves. That they own the right to ask for help if they need it and that I don’t have to give them help until or unless they ask for it – and only to the capacity that I can give it, as determined by me.

I let it go.

I release guilt over deaths I have witnessed. I couldn’t prevent those deaths, I did what had the capacity for at that time to make them as painless as possible. I am not a god, I do not have the power of life and death. The responsibility for their deaths does not rest on me. I let the guilt go.

I let go the expectation to be strong and take action all the time. Sometimes I, like everyone else, need a chance to rest, to lie in fallow, unproductive, until my nutrients are replenished and I can begin to produce again.

I let it go.

And now that I have put it all down, I have the capacity to carry what is truly mine.

What are you carrying that you need to put down?

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