Saturday, May 18, 2013


What does it mean to carry something, to really carry something?  To carry a glass of water from one room to another?  To find a stone on the road and carry it home?  To come to the front end of a difficult day, but to find strength somewhere and carry the day?  How far can one day be carried?  How much can we carry in our minds before the bottoms of our minds give out?  When you are shopping for groceries, and you fill a bag with heavy items, the bagger will often tell you not to carry the bag by the handles but to carry it from the bottom, and so carrying is also supporting from beneath.  And how recklessly can we support something from beneath?  And how carefully can we transport something delicate?  Carry is a word that we don't often stop to think about, but carrying is something we do all the time.  And it's not just us, our hands and our machines that carry.  Birds will find a bit of straw on the ground and carry that straw to their nests.  One time I had a natural fiber doormat outside my back door, and a squirrel, strand by strand, chewed it up and carried it off until there was no more doormat.  To carry something into the distance, to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.  To cinch your books in a leather belt and carry them home from school.  I could go on. 

In the spring, when the trees are blooming, the wind carries their pollen around and gives us allergies, but can the wind really be said to carry anything?  Does it take a mind to carry?  Perhaps the wind has a mind of its own, and when it hoists a pollen grain into the air and carries it from tree to tree, perhaps the wind is doing something we cannot understand, and so we pin a label onto the wind.  The natural world does not use our labels.  It takes them, or so we think.  We are pinners of labels, and we carry our labels with us as we carry our histories, and we pin our histories onto the new and foreign things we come across, in part to know these things and in part to shield ourselves from ever knowing them fully.  

One time I moved from Indiana to England, and I carried an odd selection of items with me, my pepper grinder among the oddest.  My pepper grinder traveled the ocean among my clothes, my trivet among my pains.  My friend laughed about my pepper grinder and could not understand, of all things, why I would pack and carry a device to grind dried berries.  Did you think there would be no pepper grinders in England?  I shot back, Do you think that it took up that much space in my luggage?  There were surely many pepper grinders in England, but none of them were mine.  None of them had been in my hands when I stood in my difficult kitchen; and though I was leaving Indiana and would never return, I wanted to carry some of its difficult things with me.  And besides, I said to my friend, this is a nice pepper grinder.  Why spend the money on a new one?  My friend took me out for a beer and listened to my stories, listened to me carrying on.  



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