Things We Carry

A red, rubber ball in the kitchen. A wooden spoon in the bathroom. A toothbrush in the living room. In the stillness after Lucas goes to bed, I can retrace the steps of his day, as I clean up the colorful chaos he’s left behind.

Magnetic letters scattered under the kitchen table. Wooden alphabet blocks in the bathtub. When Lucas first learned to sit up, he sat like a king surrounded by his kingdom of toys. When he started walking, he took the pieces of his kingdom with him.

A bright yellow Lego piece in a red plastic cup on the dining room chair. The fanned out Sesame Street book under the bathroom sink. He toddles room to room, carrying whatever has caught his attention, only to abandon it at the sight of something else. The chaos starts to take on its own life and seems to be more than just a random mess. It’s a window into Lucas’s mind. I spy the octagonal toy. It’s a series of wooden balls and four sticks strung together with elastic. I haven’t seen this toy in many months, and I know he pulled out everything from his toy box today and rediscovered it.

Three half-eaten graham crackers in the bedroom. An errant purple sock. There is no corner of the house he does not explore, discover, and rediscover. In tracing his steps, I rediscover our house as each day brings a different set of strewn objects. For Lucas everyday is an undiscovered country, and his path varies as he learns more and more.

As I pick up a sock and puzzle piece from the kitchen table, I realize I too carry pieces of my world with me as I go through my day and my life. But somewhere along the way, I forgot how to let them go. Some things I don’t want to let go – happy memories, situations I’ve learned from. But there is so much I should let go – all the slights and injuries, big and small, accumulate and weigh me down in ways I didn’t even know until I started picking up Lucas’s toys.

He is so free because he instinctively knows he can carry one thing at a time. Watching Lucas is a lesson in paying attention. He sets down his cracker before taking a drink, and then tosses the cup before picking up the cracker to resume eating.

He does not multitask. He is present in every moment in a way that awes and inspires me. The joy, the concentration, and the frustration have a purity that I find fascinating and sometimes overwhelming.

But perhaps I am not so jaded and hopeless as I feel. Even as I write this, the page starts to resemble our house. It is a chaotic jumble of words strewn on a page that starts to get a life of its own. I can only write one word at a time, but ideas occur to me along the way. I abandon one sentence to insert another elsewhere on the page. I rediscover where I left off and start again.

I was tempted to rewrite this on a clean page, without words in the margins and arrows, but just as Lucas’s toys are evidence of the work of his day, I want evidence of my work. I’m not ready to erase it quite yet.

At the end of the night, the room restored to some order, I come across a plastic block inserted under the cover of the Diaper Genie and laugh. It’s surprising where you find yourself at the end of the day.

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