Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Things I Carry

Because I work as an aide to a partially quadriplegic high school student I usually read whatever has been assigned to him in English. Some things I’ve already read, but a little refresher helps me help him. I was absent from school the day the teacher handed out Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. A good thing, too. Apparently the instructor had the students unpack their backpacks, etc. I would not have wanted to pull all the stuff out of the bag I schlep around everyday!

“The things they carried,” for those of you unfamiliar with the book, refers to what American soldiers carried in Vietnam not only in their rucksacks, but in their hearts and minds. I’ve read parts of it and am looking forward to a full read this time ‘round because it is a wonderful insight into that generation of men. It also makes the reader examine the things they carry.

I have noticed that both my husband and I carry a lot of stuff that give us comfort. Which brings me back to my bag. It contains a prodigious amount of pencils, pens and highlighters; paperclips, analgesics and chap stick; hand lotion, a novel, and a ruler; safety pins, lunch money and scissors and a water bottle. I even have a little stapler. Like a boy scout, I am prepared!

Dave takes to work newspapers, magazines, and snacks to eat during lunch and breaks. The amount of fruit and veggies he packs with peanut butter is amazing, but at least he’s not eating junk. It makes him comfortable at work.

Other things that I sometimes carry that give me comfort are things that have belonged to someone I love. I attach metaphysical powers to those objects, primarily jewelry, and will wear a ring that belonged to my mother or step-mother or a necklace that belonged to my grandmother. When I wear these things I feel the strength of these women, especially my step-mother and grandmother, buoy me.

Sometimes I think of trying to carry less stuff all day. But I know that as soon as I eliminate something I’m going to need it!

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