I recall an old family friend, imagine him asking why I never replied to his emails. “Because I never found the sexist ‘jokes’ funny, I never found sexism funny even as a child.” I’m getting really irate, imagining this – about someone I haven’t heard from in many years, no less. Suddenly I see this as one link in many, just one more thing adding to the weight behind me.
Suddenly I feel/see all the chains, I feel held back, it is too much to go forward with – not just the big things, but all those smaller things that are still there, adding to it. My hands disappear inside knots of chains; more drag behind me, wrapped around my waist or something. I can’t even stand up straight, how can I possibly make progress with all this??
Then my companion, who I had momentarily forgotten, claps a hand on my shoulder. Keep going, he says. Keep going, things will wear away over time. His movements look free and easy, no chains in sight; his smile and presence alone lighten things. I feel no strain standing up straight now, and I smile back.
I know this is true (friction wears things away, right?), and sometimes there will be moments when a large chunk of the deadweight behind me falls away, making it significantly lighter. I know that to some degree, it is my own attention on those old remains that gives them life again – illusory life.
Keep going. Forward.
I can still see the chains, but I can move forward with ease again, lightness coming from awareness of my companion’s presence and knowledge that what he says is true, thinking how to varying degrees, his apparent freedom is as illusory as my chains.