A few kids in the building I live in have been making the most of the winter sun lately. I was convinced there couldn’t be a much better use of the sun than reading and just lying down on a grassy balcony. But then, I saw them. They arrive at the grass patch shared by all residents every day when the sun breaks. Mostly, it’s just two siblings. Sometimes, they have a friend along.
The elder sibling, albeit still tiny, has a picnic mat that’s twice his size rolled. He arduously lifts it between his hand and shoulder like a miniature infantryman walking to his own war. His other hand has a few toys, almost always more than a couple of them. The little one usually has a toy in each hand, but I’ve seen him walk around with just a ball in his two little hands, stumbling but never letting the ball fall down. Once they’re here, they begin setting up for a time of what I can only imagine being absolute fun.
I often look at them carrying their things and think of how we hold things; it is a uniquely human trait to hold as much as we can regardless of how difficult, heavy or inconvenient it seems. I see their little hands trying to bring as many things as they can from their houses. Anything less would not suffice. I remember my time in another city—climbing the six flights of stairs to my apartment with three bags of groceries in my hands and a heavy backpack, carefully balancing everything, taking the keys out and unlocking the door after a long day at work. I remember how much I was holding on to at the time.
As I sit here writing these words beside the grassy balcony I’ll read from in a few hours, I have managed to let go of most of those things keeping me on my toes for years. I’ve let go of my want for more, of you, and of countless little things I don’t care to name, lest this piece starts resembling a note of inventory instead. I look at the kids every day and wonder, maybe this is how it was for all of us.
We learned to hold on to things, to carry as much as we could, and not leave something or someone behind. We never taught ourselves to let go. No one else bothered either.