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Friday, July 22, 2011

Carrying the Load

I've had a couple of good conversations with friends lately. We've talked about how good it is to "talk it out". It seems that when your head is just full of stuff, it helps to share the "stuff" with someone else. In the very act of talking about it things sometimes seem clear and the load gets lighter.

I was thinking about that when I saw a picture of a woman carrying a load on her head. It turns out carrying heavy loads for long distances is still a regular activity for many people in developing countries. Interestingly, in many cultures, it is only women who are seen to carry loads on their heads. Men are more likely to carry the load on their shoulders or backs. Apparently there is research (although I don't have a source to cite here- sorry) to support the fact that woman can carry up to 20% of their body weight on their head with no additional energy exertion. This ability to carry a load on your head is not something you just "take up one day". It's a learned skill. Children practice and take on increasingly heavy loads in order to develop the neck muscles and ability to carry heavier weights. Now that got me thinking...

It occurs to me that woman in my culture often carry some pretty heavy loads "in" their head as opposed to "on" their head. By times, my own head feels a little full. This is something that we learn to do. Not unlike the way you might practice carrying heavier loads on your head, as young girls and teenagers we start to take on more and more "stuff". We analyze and think about things sometimes until our heads are spinning. Often a lot of the load we carry is worry, concern, and angst for others. We are the social animals in our culture and we concern ourselves with how we fit in, how others fit in, what we should do to make others feel better, more secure, more accepted. It goes on and on.

Perhaps, we too, can take on a lot of "stuff" before we even realize we're carrying that stuff around. Woman can worry about their jobs, their families, their friends, other families, those women in developing countries... all of that without even breaking stride.

When it's just part of what you do, you can go a long way or a long time before you realize the strain of that load. See when that load is perfectly balanced, you don't seem to exert yourself. Those women carry the load well without altering their posture or breaking a sweat. If the load is "in" your head, others don't even know you've got it in there. That's when you need a friend. I don't think it's always about sharing the load as much as it's about having friends to alert you to the fact that it's time to sit down and "take a load off".

In my part of the world, it's officially a heat wave. It's also the end of a work week and a beautiful evening. Time to "set down the load" and enjoy the lightness of your being.

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