Our Real Journey

It may be when we no longer know what we have to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.  –  Wendell Berry

A psychology professor walked around on a stage teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students.  As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question.  Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple of pounds.

She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter.  It all depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light.  If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little.  If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor.  In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water.  Think about them for a while and nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little.  Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

Letting go of our burdens can feel overwhelming at times.  The fact is, we get used to carrying this heavy weight around and on some level, there is comfort in this identity. When we release this heaviness, we begin to see the path that will begin our real journey.  That will open the doors to our real work in this world, and help us discover our deep passion for life.

50 thoughts on “Our Real Journey

  1. The strangest thing for me lately is that instead of entering the nursing home to visit my husband with a feeling of agitation, I now feel a sense of relief and calm when I am in his room. You have inspired me to write a post about this! Thank you.

  2. “. . . we get used to carrying this heavy weight around and on some level, there is comfort in this identity.”

    This is extremely perceptive, and true. For some, at certain points in their life, feeling something, however unpleasant, is preferable to feeling nothing – as you suggest, it validates through identification; I feel therefore I am. A wonderfully insightful article Karen, for which many thanks.

  3. I’ve really enjoyed your post! I found it so true. When we keep our stress and worries within our selves our creativity diminishes and disappear. I saw that in a friend of mine. She quit her job as a waiter to do painting instead. She managed to do that by allowing herself to follow her own inspiration a timing. No pressure! I saw that in myself as well. When I get worried for the future and I set unrealistic expectations I simply cannot function. Nice post!

  4. Yes, I always love this story about the glass as it is a different perspective to view the question, and that is how we may approach our lives as well, turn things around, look at them from a different perspective and we can become clear of just what we are carrying.

  5. I hadn’t heard that story about the glass. So true. I used to sometimes ask my clients to carry stones in their purses or pockets, with the names of their issues on them. They would take them out one at a time as they worked through them. Or bricks in a sack or whatever. Just to feel the heaviness and be willing to let go of some of their baggage. Sometimes we need little stories or exercises to concretize what is going on inwardly, so as to bypass the intellect or ego. Thank you for this post, Karen. Great analogy.

    1. I love the analogy of the stones too Mary. To name our issues and consciously let them go is very powerful. I agree these exercises help us move through our heaviness. Thankyou for your suggestions. Blessings.

    1. Thankyou Joanne, I appreciate it. I think we all need to be reminded. I have heard that shingles is very painful, and I agree that stress definitely compromises our immune system. 🙂

  6. I love this story Karen! and especially these words ..
    “The fact is, we get used to carrying this heavy weight around and on some level, there is comfort in this identity. When we release this heaviness, we begin to see the path that will begin our real journey. ”

      1. Thank you Karen. thanksgiving is not such a tradition for me, but we have been invited to a lovely family gathering with dear friends!
        Gratitude doesn’t have to be on the last Thursday in November 💛🙏💛🙏

      1. That does happen to me too but I am also way behind on reading posts Karen. they are all waiting in my inbox so hopefully in the next couple of days I will play catch up. Too many people I follow.

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