By Amy Spitzer
The weight of the air around me is heavier than it should be.
It presses down on my shoulders, threatens to buckle my knees and begins to nudge the ache that lives just below the surface of my consciousness. I’m not sure where the weight comes from, but even the gentle breeze of fresh morning snow twists and turns into darkness when it enters my atmosphere.
I want reasons to feel this weight and I have none.
The world is the same today as it was yesterday and the day before that. The expectations have not changed. The patterns repeat and I count myself lucky to be surrounded by people that I love and who love me. I have a healthy body and I am proud of how self-aware I am, most of the time.
I journal and I meditate and I move and I am thoughtful about most things. Yet the weight exists and I wonder what it would be like to hurl myself off a cliff, Thelma & Louise style.
Yes, those are the hidden thoughts that sneak in, chased away quickly by the rational and the obvious. But the thoughts do creep in and, even as I write this, I wonder if I will include it here, in the final iteration, because then it will be out there in the world and I won’t be able to take it back. Ever.
The weight of the air around me is heavy, but I can walk through it.
I have witnessed the heaviness surrounding others, but I have often failed to name my own. I do wonder if it is something that I am allowed to have. Long ago, when I was a teenager, my best friend saw my pain and heard my story and wouldn’t allow me to back away from it. “Just because it’s not as bad as someone else’s doesn’t make it any less difficult for you.”
It was around this same time that I heard that it was not possible to overreact to something; you were simply reacting.
Our stories are our own. They happened to us and they formed us into who we are, for better or for worse. Our stories are all that we have. When we feel the pull to diminish their importance or to dismiss the thing itself, we also diminish the impact that it has on us.
But the impact is really what matters, and it is not for anyone else to determine if it is valid or not.
In the telling of the story, we find an audience—sometimes an audience of only one—and we are able to clear the air just a bit, releasing the tension and lightening the load. In the telling about the heaviness, the veil drops and the truths are revealed.
And, ultimately, once that happens, the air thins out and the darkness recedes, at least for a time.
Amy finally settled into being a middle school English teacher, after a long rambling journey through a myriad of professions, which included learning how to expertly wait tables without dropping too many dishes, becoming a fully licensed stockbroker on Wall Street, navigating the Guilliani administration’s “Welfare to Work” program in New York City on behalf of displaced adults, and eventually finding her soul’s purpose at a Boys & Girls Club in Syracuse. The leap from there to teaching was an easy, logical (and responsible!) one. Teaching felt right, purposeful and impactful. After almost 20 years of teaching writing, Amy is finally putting her words out there, hoping that they find an audience. When she is not searching for the just right word, she can be found strumming the same three or four chords on her guitar, bantering with one of her three children or hiking in the woods with her husband. Her greatest joy comes from belly laughing with the few people she has gathered up as her friends…a hodgepodge tribe of like-minded people who also seem to appreciate the need for finding the just right words.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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