A ten-year-old Maverick walked down the beach glaring, holding the heavy rock. After we had gone about a mile, he was walking backwards and tripped into a somewhat deep, sandy tidal pool, immersing himself in cold salt water to gales of laughter from us, his family. He hadn’t seen the humor, and now he was toting his irritation also, it weighing him down like the rock he carried.
“Maverick, just put the rock down,” I had said before the incident. “We can pick it up on the way back.” He had declined. I didn’t know why he wanted to take it back to camp, and I had thought wherever he set it we would find it when we returned. Rocks don’t tend to move around on their own.
At one point he had asked me to carry the rock for him, but motherhood has its limitations. Maybe my job was to help him know when the burden wasn’t worth carrying in the first place.
As he trudged, dripping wet, back to camp, his ire surrounded him like a thick ocean fog. We tried to distract him with familial joviality, hoping to rouse the cheery Maverick who was with us moments ago, but this Maverick carried his humiliation and irritation like that rock, refusing to put it down.
I sidled up to him again. “Maverick,” I said gently, “what you did was funny and unexpected. If any of the rest of us had done it, we would have laughed as well. You are wet, but unhurt. Please, just let it go.”
He ignored me, in true ten-year-old boy fashion, toting both burdens all the way back to camp.
Thankfully, he eventually let each one go. The rock has been long-since forgotten, and falling into the puddle remains a funny family story that seven years later even he can now reluctantly appreciate.
It takes a lot of energy to carry a large rock for miles. It wears you out. The same is true with a grudge.
When we choose to carry a grudge, I think we feel like it will somehow affect the people who have wronged us, that they will vicariously feel the impact and be burdened as well. They may not even know you are carrying it at all.
We lighten our load in life when we choose to put aside our grievances, to forgive a wrong done to us, to pick ourselves up after a fall and walk with our head held high, and unburdening ourselves frees us up to walk arm in arm with those we love.
In response to the Daily Post’s prompt: “Do you hold grudges, or do you believe in forgive and forget?”