This exercise was inspired by Tim O’Brien’s magnificent book about Vietnam, The Things I Carried.
I carry some extra weight on my frame, thirty pounds plus from the time I walked, a gaunt shadow of myself, my body shot full of the chemicals that were poisoning me and saving my life. I carry my disappointments in love, the stories I don’t want to tell anyone, the failures I don’t want to admit.
I carry my deep love for my children. I carry my need and desire to control them and the equal force in me to love them and let them go. I carry with me the Jewish mother gene, the gene that pushes education and fills the house with books and gives educational presents. The huge Atlas I gave the kids five Chanukahs ago will be a failed present I will never live down. I carry with me a sense of awe for the two beings that have been entrusted to my care, teenagers now, how can that be? How can it be that my fervent longing to have a baby, a longing that consumed me until I was 35 has led not to babies, but to two fully formed human beings that are separate from me? I carry the awe of that common everyday miracle. I carry the wonder of watching them grow.
I carry my faulty brain cells. I carry the hidden disability of a memory that has been dismantled by chemotherapy. I carry the loss of my history, the loss of names and places and movie titles, the plots of books I read last week and anything I ever knew about the history of this majestic, beautiful, crazy world we call home.
I carry the deep knowledge that my words and my work have made a profound difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Two million have bought my books. Most of the time, this is not a reality I can comprehend. I pretend that it was another Laura Davis who wrote those books, who was the trailblazer, who used her courage and guts and raw pain and determination to help forge a movement so powerful it warranted a backlash that almost squashed her.
I carry the need to be seen and the need to hide. I carry the love of nature and the ability to dive deep into my own breath. I carry an intermittent spiritual history. I carry the friendships of several who have been there for me and I for them for more than thirty years. I carry the knowledge that I am loved and that I have lifetimes more to learn what it means to love.
I carry the knowledge that I am doing my best and that I hope that it is enough. I carry the love of my community and my love of community. I carry lots of good recipes and the desire to always feed someone. I carry the knowledge that the older I get the less I know, the more unsure I am, the more I want to open to new possibilities.
–Laura Davis, writing practice