23 July 2009

My baggage and the horse I rode in on - and a note on monkeys

My mind sometimes fastens on a metaphor and rides it to the very end of the road.

Irene, the Green Stone Woman, blogged about an image her therapist gave her. She "imagined me climbing on a healthy horse with my disorders as a little bit of baggage hanging off my saddle," Irene wrote. This metaphor struck me and hovered in the back of my head all day.

I started thinking about my baggage, which wouldn't be just a little bit hanging off my saddle. I'd need a big Pony Express bag to carry my stuff along. I know my horse would behave better if I'd lighten the load, but every time I start to discard something, I get bogged down in the provenance of the item. This is the anger I carry in the inside pocket, and a little bit of blame I keep because no one else wants it. Here's a chunk of stupidity that I've learned to live with, and the guilt from that one period when I wasn't a good mom. Down in the bottom I carry a heavy regret for a fork I took in the road.

I know everyone has baggage. I've been trying to get rid of some of mine. The funny part is that I don't need to have a rummage sale or take it to Goodwill or rent a storage unit to keep it in. All I have to do is take it out of the bag and drop it. Toss it over my shoulder. Ride on without it. But I hoard the things in my saddlebag like treasures.

The part that I dislike most about the baggage I'm carrying is that sometimes I try to make other people responsible for it. Some innocent action or response makes me angry or sad - because it reminds me of some resentment I've been hoarding in my bag. That's not fair to anyone, because I'm likely to take out one of those little stones and chuck it at the head of someone who doesn't deserve it.

I don't know why we cling so desperately to attitudes and pain that we don't need and would be better off without. My horse feels a little tired from carrying useless baggage and would appreciate my cooperation, so I'm going to empty this bag into the first convenient Dumpster. Wait - maybe I can just toss the whole saddlebag into the trash bin and ride on fresh and renewed.


My monkey post from a couple of days ago got me into trouble. So I learned that there are some monkey lovers out there, and they seem to think that I find their monkey teasing amusing in some way. People never seem to believe me when I say I am afraid of monkeys. Pictures of them give me the creeps. The noise they make is something I hope I never hear again. I won't even watch a nature program if there is a chance a monkey figures somewhere in the story. Otherwise likeable people can't seem to grasp this. (And I'm not talking about people who comment on this blog; I love every one of them for giving their opinions.)

Some people seem to think I'd like to participate in conversations about kissing monkeys, which upsets my stomach. I don't care one bit whether you couldn't tell a monkey kiss from a dog kiss if you were blindfolded (although I don't believe that for a minute). I said it was an irrational fear. I cannot explain it, and I wasn't writing an endorsement of my position. I'm sure a hypnotist could cure me, but since I'm not likely to encounter a monkey on my daily rounds, I don't feel that my fear reduces the quality of my life that much.

There are people who are afraid of water, and I wouldn't push them in the pond. Some people fear snakes to the point where a photo of one makes their heart beat faster. Others scream when they see a spider in the house. My aunt Thedis was so afraid of cats that she used to wet her pants if one got too close to her. I don't see the point of torturing any of them.


Mariam Kobras said...

Sorry, Angie, for the monkey teasing. Your blog was written in such a light, easy tone that it was hard to be too serious about it, but a full-blown phobia is a very scary thing indeed and should not be joked about.
Monkeys are sinister, as are clowns, at least for me.
I have this totally irrational fear of flying and need to be heavily sedated before anyone can make me board a plane, so I understand completely.
Also, I'm afraid of stairs with open steps. You just couldn't make me walk down them.
So please, accept my apologies, and at least I promise to never make fun of your fears again.

Dave King said...

Fun blog. Delightful!

Leslie Hanna said...

Ah, you write so well, it is a pleasure to read. Reading the baggage part (skippng the monkeys, you are welcome) made me think about my own baggage, and how I deal with it, or not. Thanks for putting it in perspective.

Lydia said...

Whoa. This may be my favorite post yet. So as usual I have a list for you. First - your header is EVEN better today!! Beautiful!!

Second - odd timing, because someone gave me a reading about forgiveness just today. Baggage is just hard, especially the painful stuff.

And I was horrified that ZooBorns - which you know I love - tweeted a monkey yesterday. I completely understand, as I am riddled with those irrational fears. I feel sorry for the lady who is scared of cats.

You are a very gifted writer. Your gift is showing us the bones of things, I think. It's always so clear when you say it. I recognize it, but don't have the ability to describe the nature of things the way you do. Especially uncomfortable things.

Wow - long comment.

The Green Stone Woman said...

I sure wouldn't want to be dumped on the roof of a 25 story building and have everybody have a good laugh at me while I stood there completely frozen in fear. That would be a cruel thing to do. Or lock me up in the broom closet in the pitch dark with no space to move around in. Horrors! So, I sympathize with you completely.

I hope you drop your baggage in the nearest dumpster. I you can disconnect from it and cut it loose, then go for it. Be a free woman! Liberate yourself. You've got my support.

Evil Twin's Wife said...

I agree about dumping the baggage. I figure if something won't matter five years from now, it's not worth stewing over...So, no worries, no regrets. :-)

amy grace said...

Torturing people aside, your aunt was CRAZY. Afraid of cats, pshhhh. :-P

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

I found your post informative and personally illuminating.

Thank you.

dragonflies on lamp posts said...

I really love the flow of your writing lately, it seems slightly different than before.

powdergirl said...

Fantastic metaphors and the pic is gorgeous.

Hope you find the nearest dumpster quickly, your horse will appreciate it so much.

My horse, Princton, had a real aversion to saddlebags. Maybe he knew more than me about metaphors and baggage.
I found he knew more than me on a lot of topics.

powdergirl said...

Green Stone Woman,
If anyone laughs at you after you get dumped on a tall building, call me. I will personally beat the crap out of them for you.
Sorry Sugar, had to add that : )

gary guetzlaff said...

very articulate and thoughtful post.

i hope opposing viewpoints are welcome ... the experiences and lessons of the past - aren't they what makes us what we are at this very moment? Sure, clean 'em up a little, scrape off the resentment here, fix a little dent there, straighten up something that got bent in the wrong direction, surely don't *throw away* everything you worked so hard to learn. If archived properly, a lifetime of experience, (as a writer, I'm sure you'll agree) -- can keep you writing for another whole lifetime. Example: Angela's Ashes

And what makes the baggage so special, is that, although it no longer has a hold on you, you can select from it, control it, and use it, to help yourself, to help others. (I can hear Sinatra fading up, singing "My Way")