Stop. DROP. Roll.
Stopping was a good start. An emergency response akin to the removal of a hand from a blazing electric stove top coil. (Don’t touch that – it hurts.) But, stopping alone won’t make it good. Stopping will only make it less bad.
Step 2 is to DROP. When you stop the frenetic things you are doing just to make it through this personal crisis, or even just to make it through normal days, hours, minutes, seconds, heartbeats, you realize you are carrying a lot of – shall we say – “stuff.” To be fair, most of it is yours. Still, though, just because you own it (and you really should OWN it, you know.) doesn’t mean you have to keep it.
At the risk of being an insufferable creep, it has been comforting for me to remind myself that all “stuff” really is nothing more than our relationship to that stuff. Things themselves are only relevant when we consider them in relation to ourselves. “Property,” as we may lovingly remember, “si only a bundle of rights with respect to things,” and our challenge is merely to determine the sticks we have in our bundles. (Wait – we don’t all lovingly remember the fundamental nature of property? Hm.)
The comforting part is that one of the sticks in your bundle is the right to alienate your “stuff;” pawn it off, lose it, abandon it, mislay it, ditch it, punt it, set it ablaze in wild conflagration of liberty and self-actualization, or just beat the life completely from it. Remember to speak softly and carry a big stick.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that have been weighing on me, the burdens themselves, dark heavy stones, smoothed from their ceaseless pre-dawn rumbling around in my battered mind. I’ve considered them each individually: the big, irregular new one; the smaller, rounded, familiar one; and the tiny near-spherical one that’s been in there so long it may actually hurt more to drop it that to keep rolling its cold agate self around a while longer.
Now that each has been considered, inventoried, itemized, compared, contrasted, weighed, and balanced, it’s time to let each go. Let. Go. Some I let slip wistfully away (the old favorite song whose melody is soured now), while others I hurl with gusto (the vacation photograph that now belies a deceptively grinning mask and false embrace). And each, in turn, breaches a glassy surface, rippling something other than me for a change. Each sinks from me, deeper and deeper, ever away from me, ever unrecoverable.
Only now that things are dropped can I genuinely assess my maladies. Isolate, analyze, diagnose, and triage the maladies. Prior to the drop, this isolation was impossible. Am I actually hurting, or is some of the stuff I’ve carried simply feeding on me – a parasite to my host – locked in harmful, hateful symbiosis? Post-drop I’ve easily seen first that I’m not nearly as bad-off as I initially thought. Next, I’ve seen my (relatively few) injuries are not insurmountable paralyses or irreversible amputations as I initially expected. They are but flesh wounds; scratches really.
I can’t, in the end, be all that injured since (as any child will tell you):
WORDS WILL NEVER HURT ME.