In 2010 I wrote a few posts about walking uphill with a backpack full of rocks, and eventually setting the pack down and trying to walk away from it. It was a metaphor, but one which came back to me in force when I was talking with a photographer friend about the cover illustration for my blog book. My blog is about a lot of different things, from identity to personal growth to freedom, all of which are lofty ideas and therefore difficult to capture in a single image.
I like the backpack full of rocks because it's an ongoing struggle to remove it and leave it by the side of the road. Our stress is mainly caused by our own decisions and attitudes, and if we remember to shed our burdens we can walk a lot easier than if we schlep them around with us. The problem is the remembering. Most people hold on tight to what causes them discomfort, myself included, because it's what we know, and we are afraid of what we don't know.
For me, putting other people's problems and feelings into my backpack is an area I struggle with. I forget that I'm not supposed to do that. Each person must be responsible for their own stuff. I only need to be concerned about what is under my direct control, and wasting time and energy stressing over problems I can't affect the outcome of is utterly useless and exhausting. I wasted a lot of time living like that, and it's hard to change course, even though I know in my mind that it's better for me to dump out this backpack and remove what doesn't belong in there.
I wish it was easier to change the parts of ourself that require ongoing maintenance. The old stuff tends to come back, again and again, to weigh us down and increase our anxiety when we should be looking for ways to lower it. I want to live with peace and joy as my companions, not fear and frustration. I know that I have the right to choose what my attitude will be, I just hate that I forget to be proactive about it, and end up falling back into my old ways so easily.
Life is an uphill climb. But when we stop, take off the backpack full of rocks, and look around, often the view is inspiring enough to encourage us to keep walking. We are alive, and we have today to improve ourselves, and to minimize stress and panic, and find new ways to manage the hardest parts of our existence. I want to move forward, not stay in one place or slide backwards. There is more to learn, to experience and to discover. I have another chance, and I want to walk my path without the weight of a hundred rocks which don't belong in my backpack.