The Things You Carry

I picked a random story out of a Chicken Soup for the Soul book a few years ago. It was a compilation of things people told nurses as they spent their final days on their death beds. While some things were funny, other things disheartening, one thing stood out to me. “If I could do it over again, I wish I would have traveled lighter.”

 

My suitcase traveled over 11,000 miles this summer. From San Francisco, to Los Angeles, to Washington DC, to Los Angeles, to Honolulu, to Los Angeles, to Toledo, to Houston, to San  Francisco. I traveled with 2 huge suitcases, a carry-on, and a plethora of things that I bought and/ or had to ship back home along the way. I wish I would have traveled lighter.

 

I have so much stuff *cough* junk. When I was little my dad would make me and my brothers purge all of our toys, clothes, and stuff that we didn’t use. Of course, I thought I needed it all. I usually had 2-3x more stuff than both my brothers. As an adult, I moved from my parent’s house to Pentland Hills, to my parent’s house, to Glen Mor, back to my parent’s house, back to Glen Mor, back to my parent’s house, to the in-law suite in San Francisco, to an apartment in San Francisco. I always had more stuff than what the space was intended to hold. It never made sense how much stuff I had and how much of an effort it took to move all of that stuff. I wish I would have traveled lighter.

 

I used to hold grudges and be hostile towards people for the longest time. I wish I would have traveled lighter.

 

This is the part where I tell you all of the emotional and personal things that go through my head. I’m going to pass. I wish I could travel lighter.

 

I keep a book where I write random sayings that may end up being the topic of one of these emails. I came across something I wrote: How To Shed The Weight You Can’t Lose.

 

We are all familiar with the Biggest Loser. The show takes 15 contestants and cuts them off from all family and friends; they get yelled at and demeaned by Jillian Michaels, and they are given access to the best nutritionist and health care providers. They generally lose a lot of weight, and they go home and are supposed to live happily ever after. I came across a study done on all of the contestants years after they had left the show. Most people gained all of their weight back (if not more), a few former contestants kept most of the weight off, and only one person lost weight after the show stopped airing.

 

It is not easy shedding the things that you carry. The physical and emotional, the good stuff and the bad stuff, the things that make you stronger and the things that are slowly killing you, the past that holds you back and the future that gives you anxiety all represent or are the manifestation of some part of your being.

 

One of my favorite books, The Things They Carry by Tim O’Brien, is an excellent piece of art that touches upon the psyche of why we carry the things that we carry. It delves deeper as to what those items represent, whether or not the beholder understands the item’s impact. The 3rd person narrative navigates between each of the character’s past, present, and future to reveal the gravity (good and bad) of each person’s ornaments and elements. It shows that not everything we carry is physical. Not everything we carry can be seen by other people. But everything we carry is a part of who we are. There is no preachy message about getting rid of some things and holding on to other things. Life just is. We all carry some things.

 

My faith has taught me that sometimes you lay your burdens down, and sometimes you carry your cross. Only time will give you the wisdom to discern what are burdens and what your crosses. I think it is a tragedy that the Serenity Prayer has become a cliche. I think my life would be profoundly different if I not only believed, but lived with, God grant[ing] me the serenity to accept[ing] the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

 

Traveling through life lighter is the nexus of the things we carry and the things we let go of. Some burdens and bad habits are easy to get rid of. Those burdens may have been the product of the stupidity or immaturity of your youth. It may have been the result of an intention to get something better in life something had to be released from your life.

 

It has taken me 20 years to finally start getting rid of the excess in many different ways. I don’t know how many of my letters have components dedicated to talking about me and my junk. This will probably be my lifelong problem for me.  I’m just trying to move through this world a little bit lighter.

 

This is why I write these letters every month. It reminds me to stay humble, to stay grateful, and it helps me move through this world a little bit lighter. Plus it is cheaper than therapy.

 

I love to hear from you! I wrote this long letter about me and all my stuff you can find here.

 

Until next month,

Brianna

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