When to Carry and When to Let Go

My previous post considered the constant connection we have with our world, one more immediate than ever before. There is a continuous buzz of busyness. It can overwhelm one to stillness, this blogger included, so I took a week off from publishing a post.

A break in routine is an opportunity to create a change in the way we live unless the break is just another form of busyness—same behavior just different surroundings or situations.

Taking a look 0714

A true break means we attend to basic requirements only and not carry the world with us so we may meet the mundane as if for the first time, eyes fresh and bright. It requires us to drop what we carry so that we hold only the moment we have.

There is a well-known story of two monks who come to a river where they meet a woman who needs assistance in crossing.

Without a word, one monk picks up the woman and carries her across. She thanks the monk and leaves. The two monks continue on their way, one troubled and one not.

Finally, the troubled monk can stand it no longer and asks, “Why did you carry that woman across the river when you know we are prohibited any contact with women?”

The untroubled monk responds, “I only carried her across the river. You are still carrying her.”

If it is a break we intend, then it is much like residing in the gap between thoughts. In no thought there is no mind just pure consciousness. In a break from our routine, we no longer carry the busyness of everyday. We put it down and rest. When we return to our river of routine we cross, carrying our load again.

For me, this short break from blogging was different than previous ones. It started with a stop. Simultaneously, I dealt with a colorful but significantly sprained toe on my left foot and an aggravated inflammation of my right knee.

I note that the injury to my toe is probably related to increasing lupus inflammation issues but the injury occurred after my trip to the library in search of Zen novels (I found two). In fact, it was after I put down my library load that I stubbed/sprained/jammed my toe.

Resting and reading Zen provided me another perspective on balance both physically and emotionally. Perhaps my knee was more troublesome that particular day as in addition to wandering around the library, I had stocked up on groceries for the week.

My usual routine is either the library or the grocery store but not both yet organic, freshly ground almond butter was on sale, and I had new recipes to try, in particular Zoe’s cookies.  I would have to wait most of the week to make them but they were worth every step to get the ingredients. EmmaRose thought so, too. EmmaRose meets Zoe Cookies 0814

When not reading, I put down other emotional baggage that tends to clutter my routine, remembering that people really are doing the best they can and there are always options–this is true for me, as well. Sometimes, my routine blinds me to what others face so I do not see what they are carrying.

Now, I return to the river of my routine. I know the moment is all I ever have and that it is more than enough. After all, I only need to carry it to the next moment.

14 thoughts on “When to Carry and When to Let Go

  1. I love your monk parable, and appreciate the nod to take blog breaks, since I ‘ve taken much of the summer off. You have a soothing style that backs up your message. Thanks.


  2. I enjoyed your use of storytelling in this post. I have had to reduce the amount of time I spend posting my, and for the last two months, it averages once a month. Real life must take precedence. I hope you are feeling better.


  3. Thank you for this beautiful prompt to think about what I am carrying that I don’t need to be holding onto. I needed this gentle reminder today! I hope your toe and your knee are feeling better.


  4. Karen, thanks much for the story of the two monks. I’ve been struggling for two – three months now over the “woman I carried across.” Can’t seem to put her down. Grateful for a new way to look at it.


  5. I read this on Saturday, Karen, and instead of immediately replying, I took one of those early morning walks, past a clutch of ravens taking water from a puddle in the parking lot of my apartment complex, down along the watershed where tall grasses grow and red-winged blackbirds soar. I was entranced by the blue dragonflies and distracted by to-do, to-do lists that I consciously swept from my mind.

    I wish I could put down some memories that I yet carry and/or heal some conflicted relationships as gracefully as that monk. Instead, I’m stopped short by your story of the toe, that physical bump of a reminder that says also to pay attention to your body. Perhaps balance in all things. Perhaps patience and persistence with each breath. Breathing in and letting go. How I appreciate your blog posts — and I yet wait for that little book of reflections you may write one day.


    1. You know, your encouragement regarding that book of reflection is what may get it to publication. It means so much to me that you do encourage me. Truly, thank you for that, Beth, and thank you for being such a constant, thoughtful reader of this blog. And now, to write….


  6. Such a lovely, inspiring post, Karen! Thanks again for honoring Zoe’s memory by making and sharing her cookies! That you and EmmaRose enjoyed them truly warms my heart.

    I’ve been working on manifesting more quiet in my life, so this topic is very timely (yet again!). It’s remarkable what happens when we start embracing mindfulness throughout our lives, as you well know. I’m so glad you took and savored a break from blogging. We’re all benefiting. 🙂


    1. Just this morning I was considering a post on awareness and eating. It may or may not see the light of day but as you point out, mindfulness in living just expands the experience. The similar is not the same and an old perspective becomes completely new.

      As for Zoe, she occupies a special place in my heart and my life, although I know her only through your writing and in images. I don’t know that I can describe it but I do know that as I adjusted to Cooper being a memory, I found Zoe in life. It was in her loving eyes that I was reminded of his love for life and how grateful I was to know life with him. Now, there is your Via, also of the loving eyes.

      Much, much appreciated, August.


  7. your blog made me pick up an old book I bought years ago called “The Sayings of Chuang Tzu” – I opened it up and these were the very first words: “Who really understands the eloquence that uses no words?”


  8. Sometimes I think I find identity in the things I carry, comfort in the familiar worries, a sense that I must matter because I am so darned busy. And sometimes I realize that I buzz too much, engage too relentlessly, take responsibility for outcomes I can’t even budge. The hard part is setting it all down.

    Thanks for reminding me that it is necessary. That in order to pick up the next moment I must put this one down. Beautiful post Karen.


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