Toni Morrison Once Said
Toni Morrison once said, “You wanna fly, you need to give up the things that
weigh you down.” But, oh… that’s not easy.
I’m not sure about you, but I believe that many of us identify with or are perhaps
even dependent on the multiple weights that loom over us. You may be
wondering exactly what these weights are. Well, they could be any actions,
thoughts, possessions, or even people in our life that are preventing us from
growing into who we are meant to be. They can be concepts, philosophies, peer
groups, or even family members who impact us in stifling or even negative way.
We may be totally unaware of these effects. Or, we might see what’s occurring
but are resigned that this is just part of life. Often these “things” and how we deal
with them become part of our identity. We may even become dependent on our
weights, unsure of how to operate if they no longer existed. But what if we could
detach from that which bogs us down? Without these heavy encumbrances
would we be recognizable? I think so. In fact, lightening our loads may allow our
true selves to shine.
Sill, it can be difficult to release that which prevents us from evolving. Wouldn’t
we be bad people to shirk these responsibilities? And, how can we change
thoughts that have been ingrained in us since childhood? Perhaps the hardest
one is how to disengage from certain individuals who do not bring out the best in
us. Even if we could say “no” to what we’ve always felt the need to do, be, think,
or surround ourselves with, could we survive if we let go? Or would we be
consumed with guilt? Who would we be without these weights?
But what if we tried? Could we cut the strings? Is it possible to release some of
what we’ve always done, known, believed, or relied on in order to fly?
Ms. Morrison poses an interesting challenge. It’s truly a compelling thought. Yet
we easily become bogged down by the known, even when we realize its
detriments. Why do we resist cutting the cords? Perhaps it’s because these
burdens often provide us with a feeling of importance, of being needed, or of
being loved. Often we become so identified with the emotions that come with
these weights that we are hesitant to make changes because we fear losing the
In an effort to manage these heavy weights, it’s natural to label these habits,
patterns, thoughts , and people as “shoulds.” In fact, our lives can easily become
filled with endless “shoulds.” We have become a society that “shoulds” itself.
Certainly some are necessary – like I should to care for my child, I should provide
for my family, or I should pay my taxes. Still many others “shoulds” – I must
follow this religion, I have to attend this fundraiser, I need to vote for this
candidate, or I must include this person in my plans, are self-imposed. At times
we don’t realize that we even have a choice in the matter. That’s when the
“shoulds” end up owning us, ruling our lives, preventing us from discovering other
possibilities, different ways, new people, or inspiring ideas. We become tethered
to endless “I have to’s” and “I musts,” and “I’ve always done it this way,” not
permitting time or awareness for what could be if only we allowed the space.
Granted, we all must take on obligations that we’d prefer to punt. Yet, we do it, as
good spouses, parents, children, and friends. That’s all part of life. But these are
not the things that Toni Morrison’s referring to – rather it’s the duties and
pressures that we put upon ourselves that either do not need to be done or do
not need us to do them.
To better determine if it is a true need or a “should,” take a moment and consider
the reason we do this thing. Is it because it must occur and it is our responsibility
to make it happen, or do we bear the burden in an effort to appease another,
gain approval, or feel needed? There’s no good or bad in this. But, this exercise
can help determine what unnecessary things are weighing us down and
preventing us from soaring to our greatest heights.
For example, do any of the following resonate with you?
“I should serve on this committee.”
“I promised I’d cover his shift.”
“I need to include them or they will be upset.”
“I have to take care of this client immediately.”
“We should donate to this organization.”
“I feel that I have to help her with that garage sale.”
“I must take this phone call now.”
All of these statements are in reaction to normal requests that we hear
throughout our daily lives. They aren’t preposterous appeals, but do we always
need to fulfill them? The operative word is “need.” No, we do not “need” to do
them. But, we certainly may if we wish. Or, we might pick and choose from the
ever-rotating wheel of requests and demands that come our way. All I’m saying is
that we have the power to decide what we take on, who we spend time with, and
how we live our life. And if we search within, we’ll better understand the reason
behind our decisions, giving us the ability to make space in our life and lighten
our loads so that we can fly, soaring to unforeseen heights!