There is an ancient story of a man lost in the desert who searches and searches for the land beyond the endless sand surrounding him. One day, he stumbles to the top of a sand dune and discovers a river running freely in the valley below.
On the other side of the river, is the land he’s always dreamed of. Beautiful flowers of every colour line its banks. Lush, verdant forest stretches far to the horizon.
Overcome with anticipation, he rushes down the sand dune to the waters edge only to discover, there is no way across.
Inconsolable, he sits at the water’s edge and cries and cries. And the river runs freely and he cries and cries until with nothing else to do, he begins to search along the waters edge for materials to build a raft.
Eventually, he finds some old pieces of wood and builds a raft to carry him across the river.
Eventually, he makes it across.
Overjoyed by having discovered the land he’s always dreamt of, he climbs off his raft and begins to explore. He doesn’t go very far when he realizes his mistake.
“What if I come upon another river and need to cross it?” he wonders.
And he goes back to where he left his raft on the shore, picks it up and puts it on his back.
He continues on his exploration, holding tightly to the raft, just in case.
The raft becomes heavier and heavier, but he cannot let go. It served him well when he needed it before. He might need it again.
And the raft becomes heavier and heavier until the man can no longer walk. He crumbles to the ground and begins to crawl, dragging his raft with him until he can no longer move beneath the weight of all he carries.
And he lies still.
Too often, we are like that man. We search and search for someplace better to be, someone else to love us more, something else to bring us joy, happiness, contentment. As we search, we carry with us the things that have brought us here, no matter how heavy those things become, or how useless they are in our search today.
In our fear we may need those things from the past again, we do not lighten our load and begin to bend beneath the weight of all we carry.
There are things from my childhood and past I hope I never lose. My sense of wonder in the world around me. My curiosity. My joyful passion for love and light and life and living.
There are other things I hope to let go of. My fear of the dark, of feeling unwanted, stupid, unloved. My fear of making mistakes, of never getting it right, of being the cause of all the darkness in the world. These things I have no need of. They do not serve me well.
Yet still, vestiges of their presence cling to me and slip, unbidden, into my journey when I am not paying attention. They irritate my passage through life like a pebble in my shoe. If I do not stop to take it out, pain will be my constant companion in every step I take.
There are many ways to let go of self-defeating behaviours and burdens that hinder our passage through life. For me, one of the greatest ways to let it go is to write it out.
There is power in writing it out. In naming the things I carry and do not need, they become visible, and can no longer hide behind their cloak of invisibility. In seeing them on the page, I see them for what they are: disruptive, somewhat ridiculous, and oh so contrary to what I want more of in my life.
In writing it out I get to stand in my power and overcome their insidious nature simply by turning the light on them, and not the darkness they would have me believe keeps me safe.
In writing it out I find my way through the desert and across the river without needing to build a raft to carry me across. I do not need wood, or words, to swim. I need the power of my belief I deserve to be on the other side. I can do it.
Writing it out lightens my load. Writing it out means I’m not lying still beneath the burden of the past. I am jettisoning the things I do not need and swimming freely in the waters of life.
Writing it out sets me free.
What do you do to lighten your load? what do you do to set yourself free?