What We Carry

There’s a story I read in Anthony de Mello’s book Awareness. A story I haven’t forgotten, even though it’s been a few years, and which I actually have undertaken to remember frequently: Two monks by a stream see a young and beautiful woman struggling dangerously in the current. It’s forbidden for them to make physical contact with women. But one of the monks immediately jumps into the water, pulls and embraces the woman, saving her from drowning and helping her to shore. The monks continue on their way. However, one of the monks is so shocked by the events that he’s stricken silent for quite some time. One, two, three hours pass. Finally unable to contain himself, the shocked monk says to his friend, “How could you embrace and carry that woman even though you knew it’s forbidden to make contact with them?!” The other stops for a while and then replies, “My friend, it’s been hours since I brought the woman to shore. But why are you still carrying her?”

We all carry something; material or immaterial and despite the fact that it’s too heavy. But there are some things that are not only too heavy but also good for us. They give us pride, joy, or excitement, bring us closer to life, keep us sturdy, and mediate our personal development. But what about the heavy and equally unpalatable things? Isn’t adding every faced obstacle, problem, and difficult person to our column of defeat as another failure, just another way of taking on another unnecessary burden?

Isn’t boorishly turning every weakness, mistake, and lack of skill automatically into a general ‘I’m always like this’ statement, a kind of emotional porterage? Is it our fate to forever carry all those duties, responsibilities, and obligations, which never stir our hearts, just because we said yes once? Which things do we want to stop carrying in our lives today or even in this present moment? Which complaints, mistakes, and memories? Which people, words, and beliefs? We learned or we did not. We surpassed our experiences or we did not. We found the most justifiable answer or we did not. Does it matter? What if we just let go? Reject to carry them any further. Like finally putting down a heavy backpack, a watermelon weighing six kilos, or a child that can walk on its own. What would we lose? What would be gain?



Translated by Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

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