I carry lots of things. Some of it is super heavy and because I keep it in my backpack, nobody EVER sees it. But it can weigh me down. We all carry stuff in our backpacks. Our pain, or horror, our trauma, the things that make us ugly inside, our faults, even the things we're glad for but think others may judge us about. From the outside, people can look and see the weight of the things we carry. We just never dump the backpack on the table for others to see the things that are inside. How could we? What if people don't understand? Worse yet, what if we're judged by the things we carry? Any of it? All of it? Is it worth being vulnerable for the sake of vulnerability?
But the things we carry are a part of us and who we let see inside our backpacks are our choice. The worst decisions I've ever made are in there. I don't dump it on the table, but my very best friends have peeked in. Sadly, some of my best decisions are there, too. The things I don't talk about, the things that really make me who I am, the best and the worst, they're all in there. I just know that if I'm struggling to climb the next hill, it's because I've overloaded my backpack. I'm glad I have the friends that I do to see when the weight is pulling me down. They're good at pulling an item out, objectively inspecting it, and making sure I can leave it on the table to climb the next mountain with them.
Coming to prison is one of the best things to ever happen to me. I off loaded the stuff that made me incapable of moving forward. I've learned the best about the people that stuck with me and I've met new and amazing "forever friends" (as Marshall calls it). But my backpack is with me and I've learned to stand up straight, move with purpose, and not let it drag me down. What if one day I can unload the whole damn thing? One day I will. But until then, I have some mountains to climb with some very special people, all wearing our own backpacks. See you at the top...
by Rory Andes
It's the things we carry that add to who we are. Pack wisely.
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