Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sometimes We Forget To Look At The Map

All of the events of our lives have a certain weight to them.  As we go through our lives, we carry that weight.  Sometimes those burdens are light - all the things we carry that we love, all of the things we carry for the people we love, all of those have very little weight.  They have a joyous weight, even if they are difficult and challenging things. The burden of our lives comes from carrying all of those things that we do not love, or that we do not carry out of love.

I think it is very important in this world, as we make our way through it, to carefully consider what we decide to carry and what we decide to set down. We can be selective about the weight we carry.  We can choose to carry the joyous things.  We can choose to set down the burdens.

We don’t get to set down all burdens of course - some of them belong to us, for a short while, for a long while, and those we have to carry.  I think that is part of the price that comes with this wild and beautiful thing called being human.  But there are plenty of burdens that we pick up and carry and we simply do not need to - our anger, our hate, our fear, our resentment, our disappointment, all of this are unneccesary burdens. We should examine them carefully and set them down.

It may seem like a strange thing, but when we go through the process of setting down the burdens we don’t need to carry, we make room for the burdens we do need to carry and they become both purer and lighter.  They are transformed into sort of a defining weight and they slip out of the burden category.

I think one of the biggest voluntary burdens that we carry is our attempts to live other peoples lives for them. Whether we attempt to persuade them or attempt to command them, we are attempting to alter the course of their lives. We don’t have that right, even for the people we love.  Everyone has the right to make their own choices, to carry their own burdens, according to their will or fate or destiny or simple random choice.

We should always give our best advice.  We should always provide our best counsel. We should provide both in a manner that is consistent with what we value, with what we hold valuable.  Then we should let it go.  Advice and counsel is a gift - whether they pick up the gift or ignore the gift is a choice and that choice is their to make.

This is not an easy path.  But then, it is the difficult paths that take you to the most stunning vistas.*


*A brief but true story:  Some years ago, while I was driving through the midwest, I stopped at Yellowstone for two days of sightseeing and hiking.  As I wandered through the park in the fall, I stopped in a parking lot. There was a sign/trail marker there that pointed up the mountainside to an attraction and said it was a short hike away, maybe a mile or less.  I slipped into my knapsack, tightened my boots and for about 20 minutes I walked up the side of the mountain.  The hike was worth it - the sight was beautiful, and I turned around and hiked back down.  I got into my car, drove further down the road, which twisted and turned up the mountain, and suddenly there I was.  At a parking lot.  About a hundred feet from the sight I had seen minutes before. Sometimes life makes you do things the hard way before showing you the easy way. Sometimes we just forget to look at the map.


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