Tim O’Brien’s, The Things They Carried, is a story about soldiers fighting in Vietnam and what they carry with them. The platoons describe both physical things they carried like matches and rifles, as well as emotional things like guilt and fear. It’s a really powerful story. I read this my sophomore semester of college in my Introduction to Fiction class. Going into my senior year of college, I still remember how wonderfully written that story was. I also remember the assignment that went along with it.
My professor had us all write our own version of the story, as a college student, as a person; “The Things We Carry.” I remember I wrote that I carried things like my cell phone, my wallet, my books. I wrote how I carried self confidence, determination, and a distinct perspective on life. I wrote that I carried my past and the obstacles I faced. At the time when I wrote this, I thought it was an interesting assignment. It made me think and allowed for creativity. When I was finished with my paper I was happy with it; however, I didn’t see the true significance of all I was carrying.
It is only recently that I have realized that carrying your past isn’t always a good thing. You see I wasn’t just carrying my past as it was; I was carrying my past defeats, my past failures, my past insecurities. I failed to see that carrying such baggage was having an influence on my present life. I didn’t understand the importance of letting things go simply because they are heavy until the other day.
Mariah Carey’s new album, “Me. I Am Mariah.” is phenomenal and hasn’t left my car since I purchased it. Driving the other day I had the CD playing. Mariah’s cover of George Michael’s, “One More Try,” came on and it just caused my thoughts to trail off. The next track is a gospel type song called, “Heavenly,” and for a reason I didn’t realize at the time, I started crying. Anyone who knows me knows I hate to cry, and it’s a rare sight to see me crying. Listening to the words, “I just can’t give up now. Come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy, but I don’t believe He’s brought me this far to leave me,” caused me to have a bit of an emotional breakdown. Being I hate to cry, I had to figure out why I was even crying. And I realized, after talking it out with one of my aunts, it’s because I was carrying the weight of things that I never released.
In the past, I never showed any emotion over personal defeats. I said, “Oh well, I’m KK…” and I never stopped to cry over anything if I was upset. I let the weight of everything build up until it finally became too heavy to carry anymore. I’m progressing in several aspects of my life, or at least I think I am, and in order to do that it’s important that I clear my hands of old baggage.
After I let out that ugly cry, I felt so much better. It’s true, you don’t feel the weight of something until you release it. And as Nathaniel Hawthorne says in The Scarlet Letter, “She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.” I have finally let go of the things I was carrying that were actually weighing me down.