The last month or so has seen a lot of bricks in my backpack. Sadly, I'm one of those people who usually whines first and yanks on the bootstraps later. (Working on that.) But somewhere in the beginning of all of this, I found myself on my knees. I found myself asking for a stronger back, for just enough to see things through, for enough hope to keep at it. And today I feel a little stronger.
Oh, I've thrown a few fits, shed more tears than I like to admit, and seriously doubted if I could handle one more day of lugging. I don't know what tomorrow, next week, or even next year will bring, but I feel like I might be able to shoulder more than I thought. Strange that.
Some of life's bricks aren't really bricks. They're little things, daily responsibilities to handle (like getting one of my kids to do his homework). Some other bricks are more like boulders and not as easily shed. And some weights I think I might have to carry for a long time.
But a new thought struck me. Sometimes my backpack is heavier because I try to carry it alone. I don't ask for help--not much. That isn't to say I don't ever lean on others. (I'm pretty sure my husband has developed a limp from all of the times I lean against him.) I just usually don't ask anyone to help me carry my cares. Many times, I pretend like I don't even own a backpack.
"Things are great! Thanks for asking."
"Nope, we're good. Not much going on with us."
"Thanks, I appreciate that. Is there anything I can do for you?"I don't claim to always act this way. If you've read my blog for very long, you know I tend to talk often about my concerns. But generally I try to spin a positive attitude, express gratitude, or reflect the positive outcomes of those moments. I try to, at least. But if I'm going to be honest, sometimes I outright lie about my "invisible" backpack. (Wow. The irony in that sentence makes my head swim.)
There are, and have been, people in my life I've shared my cares with. Some of them have been remarkably patient, understanding, and supportive. I'm not an easy person to know, and I admit that I have a cargo-train's worth of baggage. That's something I consider, in large part, to be the reason the list of people "in the know" is so short.
Another reason is that I've been burned pretty badly. I think everyone has at one point or another. Sometimes we misplace our trust. Sometimes we jump the gun. Sometimes people aren't what we thought they were. Sometimes, something is just too much. And like anyone who's put their fingers too close to the fire, I've learned to keep my hand to myself.
But today, I'm wondering if keeping away from the fire is also keeping me away from warmth. What if shunning the flame is just leaving me out in the dark? One of my favorite country songs is by Garth Brooks and is also the title of this post.*
We call them cool
Those hearts that have no scars to show
The ones that never do let go
And risk the tables being turned
We call them foolsI never thought I was one of those people, calling people fools for risking it all. I always thought I championed people like that. In my heart, I do root for them. But somewhere along the way, I stopped being one of those people willing to risk the flame. I stopped, I flinched, I stepped away. I began to see only the destruction wrought instead of how life-giving fire can be.
Who have to dance within the flame
Who chance the sorrow and the shame
That always comes with getting burned
Why is it so hard to just say it? I need help. I need a friend. I'm having a hard time doing this alone. Have I been so afraid of the heat that I'm missing out on the ring of people circling the pit? Some of the world's best stories have been told around campfires. As a storyteller myself, isn't it just so wrong that I'm purposely staying away from that? Is it really living if I'm standing out on the fringes?
Life is not tried, it is merely survived if you're standing outside the fireI wonder if maybe I ought to be willing to admit I have a backpack. A good friend doesn't just help carry your burdens--they also help you set them down and keep you walking onward. And, I think, a really good friend lets you return the favor. But a friend can't do any of these things if you don't let them in.
These are the thoughts rolling around in my head today. I'm not anticipating a full-on bonfire anytime soon. But I do wonder if there isn't something inside of me, telling me that I'm not content to live life this way. That I'm not made for hiding. That sometimes the risk is worth the fear.
There's this love that is burningMaybe it's time I took a risk.
Deep in my soul
Constantly yearning to get out of control
Wanting to fly, higher and higher
I can't abide
Standing outside the fire
Until next time,
*Italicized stanzas and post title from Garth Brook's Standing Outside the Fire