There’s a story old women tell in Eastern Europe or the Middle-East. I can’t remember which and it doesn’t really matter. A story told by old women in one of those places where old women – mothers and grandmothers, sisters and wives – understand suffering.
I may embellish it in the telling, but that doesn’t really matter either.
The things that have hurt you, the old women say, will never leave you. They talk about a box.
You can’t keep that pain inside all the time, nor can you keep looking at it, so you put it in a box. You can’t rid yourself of it, but it can no longer touch you. It’s part of you but outside you.
You’re attached to the box – maybe by an umbilical cord. To move anywhere you have to carry it. Occasionally, it will get too heavy – you’ve been living life one-handed – and you’ll have to set it down.
This is when you stop, open the box, and remind yourself what’s inside. You remind yourself it’s real, a part of you, and that you’ve been able to bear it.
There will be more in the box than last time you looked. If you’ve been paying attention the new pain will be different. Variety is important here – you don’t need to carry too much of any one thing.
If you’ve been paying attention you’ll have learned not to let anyone load you up unnecessarily.
You’ll also have noticed you can’t carry anyone else’s box and nobody can carry yours – but by some mystery the right two people can make each other’s seem lighter.
You breathe deep, close the box, pick it up with one hand and – holding, if you’re lucky, someone else’s free hand in your own – you carry on.
Nice story.

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