The Things We Carry

Updated: Aug 25

Yesterday morning I went down to our local COVID test site to check my status. It’s my fourth test this month. These are the times we’re in. Every time I get a cold or scratchy throat I go do a nasal swab. At least the testing trailer is in a beautiful place. It’s only about a mile from our house and sits right on the lake next to a park.

Yesterday I brought my dog and after the test, we walked around the park next to the site. While I was walking I noticed an older woman, about my age, walking quickly with a heavy pack on her back. She was tan and healthy-looking and her gait was one of intention and determination. I wondered for a moment if she was homeless and I started crafting the story of her life in my head.

Then I saw her stop, drop her pack, and do standing push-ups on the park bench next to the restrooms. “Ah,” I thought to myself, “she must be in training for something.” In the Pacific Northwest, it’s not uncommon to see people in training for long hikes like the Pacific Crest Trail or some other big hike in the area.

As I wandered around the park with my fat, slow dog I watched the woman put her pack back on and walk strongly away. I wondered how far she’d walk today, how long she’d carry that heavy weight on her back.

Lately, I’ve been feeling heavy. A lot of this weight is rooted in our return to worry and fear with the surge of the Delta Variant. The norms we established sixteen months ago are coming back — no hugging, no traveling, no inside socializing. I know I can do this because I’ve done it before, but it’s heavy. I feel the burden of it.

This distance in my daily life makes me miss my faraway family even more than I already do. I only see my parents, and my sisters and brothers, and their families once or twice a year as it is, but somehow COVID makes the distance feel even greater, more pronounced. This unfulfilled longing is adding to the heaviness I carry.

I have no control over COVID other than to follow the guidelines and get tested when I have any kind of suspicious symptoms. And I have no control over this distance with my faraway family members. We live on opposite sides of the country. We have for years. Yet I carry the sadness more in these times we’re in.

If only I could just accept that this is what life looks like now. If only I could embrace the present moment as I’ve trained myself to do with meditation and yoga for decades. I try but I still feel the weight. It’s with me. I’m carrying it.