The Things We Carry
While driving to work the other day, I thought about having skeletons in our closets, those sins from the past, forgiven or not, and thought about the things and experiences that inform us and our lives, the baggage that we carry, the wounds and scars that have created us as we are. I thought about these things, somehow, in the context of the book by Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried, a collection of war-stories from his time in Vietnam that told of the things the soldiers carried in their bags and in their hearts, the things they saw that they couldn’t forget or get out of their minds and ended-up causing them to be different people, or people who thought about things in a different way. Again, I wondered at the things that we carry…our constituted parts and pieces…the luggage of our lives. Our childhoods inform our present, the way we deal with things and people. Relationships with those in our past cause us to be careful or heedless with the people in our present. Former bosses, friends, lovers, co-workers, children, even books or articles that we read or hear about can impact our lives or the way we conduct ourselves…from novels to scriptures and myths and horror stories. They become part of our load, part of our burden and the expectations that we have of ourselves and others. Those skeletons in the closet cause us to suspect or doubt others and their intentions. We wonder at what they have in their own secreted places that touch their thoughts, words, actions, etc, as they deal with us and others in their or our realms of life and the everyday. Our successes and failures also color our thought processes and behavior. And the guilt of our sins, likewise, molds our words and their expression, shapes them into the things that they’re going to be, or used to be, or are. So too, does the forgiveness and love from the offended and others. It heals our broken spirit and helps us do better, to think differently, and to behave in other ways. The love and kindness from expected and unexpected sources can and do open our hearts and minds, allowing us to accept ourselves, to love ourselves and others when we would be inclined to do otherwise because of the guilt and other things we carried and carry. The forgiven sins and assuaged guilt are still inside of us and still inform our beings, but hopefully in positive expressions and not as anchors that keep us tied to our past miseries…the forgiveness can be turned as keys opening doors to new things, possibilities, loves, and wonder, providing new opportunities to add other things, good things and then, to our life luggage and the things we carry.