A Pair of Atlases

(for someone I know…)


Trying to bear the weight of the universe—even your own private universe--on your shoulders is hard. Then again, if everyone in the world was responsible solely and entirely for themselves, well, things would be a lot less messy but—it’d be a very, very lonely place. Somewhere, but I don’t yet know where, there’s a secret, magic balance. It’s the perfect amount of involved; the perfect amount of responsible; the perfect amount of adult. It’s not-too-much-guilt. Every once in awhile, we get it wrong. We, the pair of atlases, generally tend to err on the overly-involved, overly-responsible, overly—well, if not adult (no one would call us that, I don’t think), then overly conscientious, side.

It’s very heavy—the guilt, I mean. Helping people is light and airy. That’s not what’s heavy. That’s not even what it’s all about (though it probably should be). There are lots of strings attached—helping oneself, for instance. Feeling justified, needed, or loved. Oh, it gets very complicated indeed. But being driven by our guilt will only make our shoulders sag, and our faces pale, and our muscles, inside and out, ache.

I haven’t yet figured out how to transform guilt into something good; but when I do (and I will, I will, I will!) I’ll tell you about it. And maybe it has something to do with the light-and-airy-helping-feeling, and maybe soon I’ll discover where that magic balance is hidden.

But until then, I say…well, at least we’re a pair, and so, not alone; and I don’t think there’s any rule anywhere that says one Atlas can’t share another’s burden.