What kind of emotional weight are you carrying around? These “rocks in your basket” can weigh you down the more you take on. In this article, Akaisha discusses how to balance what to keep and what to cast away.
A few months ago, I was enjoying a cappuccino with a girlfriend at a local café and catching up on each other’s lives.
“What have you been up to lately, Jo?” I asked eagerly.
“Rearranging the rocks in my basket” she said matter-of-factly.
I have been to Jo’s home for fun, food, and holiday festivities. She has a wonderful indoor-outdoor living style with a hand carved hot tub in her side garden.
Curious, I asked her what she meant. Did she have a new rock garden in her back yard? Has she been collecting some of the local semi-precious stones around Guatemala?
“No, nothing like that… Ever since Mom died my brother, his wife and I haven’t been getting along. They are sure that Mom squirreled away a fortune and they are spending theirs trying to find it. I’ve told them that there IS no fortune, but they are convinced and they think I am lying to cover up.
“So… these are the stones I carry around in my basket right now. On the other hand, I was able to forgive Mom for the stunts she pulled while I was growing up, so that’s a rock I got rid of.”
We chuckled together in mutual understanding and continued our visit.
Later on though, I couldn’t get out of my mind the image of carrying around psychological and emotional weight with me on a daily basis. In my imagination I looked around my life and assessed the weight of my personal basket.
I thought of my middle sister who is disabled. Once vibrant, physically active and sought after by headhunters in the business world, she now is wracked with pain and struggles for reasons to get up in the morning; reasons to continue living her life.
I throw a few stones in my basket to show my solidarity with her. (Is this wise?)
An effort to strengthen my relationship with my niece, who is going through a difficult divorce, backfired. I reviewed a few circumstances in the past and realized that perhaps they are not yet fully resolved. Add another rock.
I watch the news to keep informed, and even though it upsets me, I’m glued to the talking heads anyway. And even though I cannot change anything, I throw in another rock.
All of these incidents contribute stones, rocks, pebbles, and boulders to my basket.
Oh Lord. What am I carrying around?
What are we to do about this emotional weight?
Jo and I had discussed the current status of our baskets during our coffee date. We both agreed that the reasons for the rocks change and that some days the basket is lighter or heavier, depending.
Depending on what?
Depending on how we take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally.
Every time we exercise, eat healthily, do some yoga, read an inspirational passage, enact forgiveness, learn a new skill, let go of the past, clear the clutter in a closet or drawer, laugh, or any other activity that supports us, rocks, pebbles, gravel and sometimes even big stones get tossed out of our basket.
If we get caught up in negative emotion of any sort – fear, anger, lack of kindness, judgment of others, self-righteousness, mental darkness – weight of various sizes gets placed back into our baskets.
Don’t despair. This is an ongoing life exercise. If our baskets are completely clear, we are probably enlightened like a spiritual Monk Master. If we have something in our baskets that we are carrying around, we are probably still human.
I think this image is useful to keep in mind, even if all we are doing is rearranging the rocks in our basket. The idea that I might be able to rid myself of some of these stones and pebbles feels hopeful to me.
What emotional weight are you carrying in your basket of rocks? What do you do for yourself to lighten that basket up? Is it working? If not, don’t give up, lighten up.