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P. 1
Has Anyone Seen My Burden?

Has Anyone Seen My Burden?

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Published by Thom Hunter
I don't think we know when we pick up the burdens we may carry throughout our lives. If we saw them on the side of a road somewhere, we might slow down and ponder, stroke-our-chin, glance into our eyes in the rear-view mirror, even stop and shift into park, and then, all things duly-considered, drive on to leave them for some clean-up crew to handle. If we saw them on a shelf for sale, we might jingle the coins in our pocket or almost pull out the debit card, consider that we would have to dust them and arrange them if we took them home, realize they just eventually become so-much clutter, so we might admire them on the shelf and walk away. If someone offered them to us on a street corner, we might graciously nod and decline with a "no thanks, I don't really need that," and cross to the other side.
I don't think we know when we pick up the burdens we may carry throughout our lives. If we saw them on the side of a road somewhere, we might slow down and ponder, stroke-our-chin, glance into our eyes in the rear-view mirror, even stop and shift into park, and then, all things duly-considered, drive on to leave them for some clean-up crew to handle. If we saw them on a shelf for sale, we might jingle the coins in our pocket or almost pull out the debit card, consider that we would have to dust them and arrange them if we took them home, realize they just eventually become so-much clutter, so we might admire them on the shelf and walk away. If someone offered them to us on a street corner, we might graciously nod and decline with a "no thanks, I don't really need that," and cross to the other side.

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Published by: Thom Hunter on May 21, 2010
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09/03/2012

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Has Anyone Seen MyBurden?
What kind of clown am I?What do I know of life?Why can't I cast away This mask of playAnd live my life?
 
-- Stop the World - I Want to Get Off (1961)I don't think we know when we pick up the burdens we may carrythroughout our lives. If we saw them on the side of a road somewhere, wemight slow down and ponder, stroke-our-chin, glance into our eyes inthe rear-view mirror, even stop and shift into park, and then, all thingsduly-considered, drive on to leave them for some clean-up crew to handle.If we saw them on a shelf for sale, we might jingle the coins in our pocketor almost pull out the debit card, consider that we would have to dustthem and arrange them if we took them home, realize they just eventuallybecome so-much clutter, so we might admire them on the shelf and walkaway. If someone offered them to us on a street corner, we mightgraciously nod and decline with a "no thanks, I don't really need that,"and cross to the other side.But we don't find them sitting in the sun on the side of the road on aSunday drive through the countryside . . . or on the sale rack in the storebeneath a sign that reads "Burdens at Rock-Bottom prices,"or in theoutstretched hands of a stranger at the curb saying "please take this."We accumulate our burdens in much more subtle ways, a stumble hereand there, a curious foray into unexplored territory, a letting down of theguard in a needy moment. Or maybe, as we journey along, some of themare crammed into our backpacks by someone else when we weremomentarily distracted, or given to us in change returned during amisguided selling of our soul. Regardless, we pack them in and carry themon, a collection that weighs us down and saps our strength, sometimesbringing us to our knees. We shift them on occasion for comfort . . . andperhaps we ourselves sit on the curb and offer them to others, but wekeep them nonetheless. Sometimes they're shared and diminished a bit;sometimes they're shared and multiplied.I picked one up through another's "generosity" in the early '60s when Iwas sexually abused. He had enough burdens to divide them amongothers and he gave me my share and soon went on down the road to gifthis burdens to others to bear, laying us down like little mile-markers alongthe road on his journey into darkness.I picked another one up in the early '70s. It disguised itself as an answerto a gnawing need instead of as the key to an open door to a hell-on-earth. Once I walked through that door and stepped inside, despite my
 
natural inclination to flee, I discovered an equally-natural inclination tohang on to that burden to serve as a doorstop to keep the door behind meopen so I could return whenever that gnawing might lead me back downthe path.Our burdens intertwine and strengthen each other and almost alwayspresent themselves as answers, not roadblocks. Before we realize they'reburdens, they seem more like gemstones. Like a hapless contestant on agame show who makes the choice to open one more briefcase or go tothe next round of challenge, we often lose all because we are grasping atwhat seems so rewarding. We want more. For many of us, the need to beneeded, the want to be wanted, the longing to be longed for, the desire tobe desired, the craving for acceptance, the purely innocent comfort of notbeing rejected, the being noticed, the addiction of affirmation, the fuel of "love" -- phony or not -- propels us into over-achievement in our burden-collecting.For me, the door opened on a foggy corner in the drizzle of a past-midnight walk on a college campus when the door of a Volkswagen opened and a smiling driver offered me comfort and a dryride out of the soaking night of self-pity and loneliness in which I waswandering, self-absorbed, but presenting myself like a sponge, daringsomeone to care about me. And he did. And I allowed it. And I left a littleblock of burden in the doorway so I could return when again the greydescended and the fog rolled in. I thought, "no harm."Or perhaps I didn't really think at all. That's the thing about burdens. Thecare and feeding of them become so consuming that we find little time toconsider the process of unencumbering ourselves until we are socumbered we cannot spare the energy. We must instead figure out howto make sure no one sees what we are carrying. We rationalize at somepoint that no one
wants
to see them. There is no curb on which to sit; nogarage sale to hold; no bargain-basement low enough. They're ours.Much like watching a tree grow outside my office window-- from wind-bending sapling to steady, shady oak -- we don't see how our burdensgrow. We've stashed them into a sack of secrets that, though itself invisible to others, becomes so heavy it nevertheless presents us to themas someone stooped in soul. They may not know why; they may suspect;they may have ceased to care, having been whacked here and there by acloaked burden that fell from the pack through our clumsy packing andshifting.

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