The things I carry

I wrote last week about the physical things I carry with me, in my bag, and I enjoyed reading many of my favorite bloggers as they too spilled the contents of their bags. For the last couple of days, though, I’ve been thinking about the other things that are always with me, in my head and in my heart. Sometimes these things, abstract as they are, feel as awkward and heavy to carry as any physical bag.

I carry people. My closest friends and family travel alongside me everywhere I go, floating into my mind’s eye at various times. Places, sounds, smells remind me of times shared with those dear and, actually, occasionally, those not. Sometimes an old friend, long lost, will rise to the surface of my thoughts like a piece of something buoyant bobbing up, and I wonder what hidden disturbance dislodged thoughts of that person from their deep resting place in my memory. There are a few close people who are with me all the time, whose voices I hear in my head, whose wisdom and input guide me every day.

I carry words. Snippets of poems from poets old and new (Wordsworth, Keats, Olds, Oliver, Sexton, Rich are some of the most familiar) run through my mind at seemingly random moments. I know, of course, that there is nothing random about why certain words rise to mind at certain times, and I try to pay heed to the messages that they carry. Song lyrics, passages from books, quotes that I know by heart. All of these words accompany me, a private soundtrack, a story narrated by my subconscious.

I carry my demons. These fears meet me every single day, jumping out at me unanticipated from corners I didn’t even know were there. I am learning to bear their visits, to let them wash over me without reacting too much, trusting that they will end. This, the not reacting, is my primary challenge.  My insecurities, often so toxic, show a tenacious stubbornness, clinging to the surface of my identity like barnacles.

I carry my supporters.  Their words go directly to war with those of the demons, and who wins changes daily.  There are a handful of people throughout my life who have seen value and substance inside of me, and this steady belief, when I let myself trust it, sustains me.  Some of these supporters are from long ago, teachers or friends, and some are much newer members of my life, of my tribe; it is impossible for me to express my gratitude for these kind and generous voices, who often form a bulwark that protects me up against the fears and doubts that often threaten to engulf me.

I carry all of these things with me every day, in my soul, in my heart, in my head.  The voices and influences rise and fall depending on the day, the hour, the moment.  Many of them are consistent, expected, anticipated – certain memories are triggered by predictable sights, smells, sounds.  At other times, I am surprised by what or who sweeps to the forefront of my consciousness.  I strive only to remain open to these voices, these people, these memories, these friends, to honor their coming and to receive gratefully to their influence.

11 thoughts on “The things I carry”

  1. You know one thing I wish I didn’t carry? Regret. I’m still beating myself up for stupid things I did in my 20’s? Why can’t I just let it go? It’s infuriating! Someone needs to figure out a way to wipe our memories clear of shameful incidents…

  2. This is beautiful, and it sums up perfectly how I feel every waking moment of my day.

    I see snippets of my past, in the forms of people, words, and places, and they’re intertwined with my thoughts and feelings of my present way.

    I love that you mentioned Keats, Olds and especially Rich whose “An Atlas of the Difficult World” was the inspiration for my blog – the title I borrowed from one of the lines within the poem. And each day, I hear soundbites of this poem course through my veins. It is at once sad and wonderful.

    I often wonder why some things stay with us the way they do.

  3. Sometimes it seems like a lot to carry, no? I seem to carry all my things in various containers – for a long time it was a huge steamer trunk, sometimes even an old barge. I can keep everything in a large carpet bag now, for the most part, but my goal is to whittle it down to a nice little backpack! Neatly packed and organized, the voices and demons and friends can be so very welcome… I try to just say hello to the bad guys and let them hang out for a while. And all of the good stuff is woven into the day…

    Wonderful words, as always… thank you.

  4. Lindsey, this is beautiful. “I strive only to remain open to these voices, these people, these memories, these friends, to honor their coming and to remain open to their influence.” I think this is what it means to be truly alive, to let all of ourselves exist in the present. To carry these things in our soul, to let them be part of who we are (even our demons!) so that we may, at every moment, learn from these voices, including the voice of who we once were.

    Great stuff (as always!) 🙂

    And again, so sorry ADSV wasn’t on my blogroll – I thought that it was! Your blog is the epitome of a good blog in my mind. Well designed and well written.

  5. Your raw honesty warms the damp corners of my fears. Doubts, demons and old, haggard memories scheme to lessen my momentum and success. But I try, daily, to kick them in the ass.

  6. Um, yes. Totally. This would have been its own category if I had been intelligent enough to remember it. Damn heavy, my regret, and so full of permutations and colors. So. Much. Regret.

  7. I wish I didn’t carry so much stress. I sometimes sweat the small stuff and I shouldn’t be – beautifully written post.

    I’m glad that another blogger reminded me of how talented you are. I just wish there were more hours in the day!!!

  8. This is gorgeous, Lindsey. And yes, carrying the demons is so difficult. But look at the tally – those snippets of words you carry, the good people in your heart and memories and in your life, all the sensory memories and incidences of support – they’re stronger than the fears and the disappointments.

    Beautiful post.

  9. So true, but I’ve been amazed at how many are carrying these same burdens, the ones that I thought I was carrying alone. And how many are willing to share the load, be there when those demons are stronger than usual.

    I used to think that I was alone in this struggle to carry all of this. No more. Thank you once again Lindsey for reminding of this.

    And thank you also for sharing the load. 🙂

  10. You know I’m big on the bowl, be it stock-pot or barge, and as much as we carry, if we are able to alchemically cook it down and metabolize it we become better with both the teeming contents of the psyche and the sublime emptiness when it shows up.

    … but until then I’m just riding along in the collective vessel and hoping we don’t hit an iceberg—and sending good wishes with all that we all carry, sort, drag and transform.

  11. Yes! I carry quotes and ideas for poetry, books (memoir, YA, adult, children’s, the whole smash).

    I also carry my children in my thoughts, and my husband, and now our new puppy. What they need, what are we moving towards. And how wonderful this very short moment is right now as I think of them and my love for them.

    I carry memories of my gram, her death (still fresh), her voice. How my mom stood paralyzed the moment she died, and then cried out, “Mommy, mommy.” And so many other memories of light and pain and everything in between. It is all life.

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