Some days, some nights, I feel overwhelmed by the state of this world. There’s so much pain and so very much suffering, and even though there is beauty, there is also more brokenness than you or I could ever know. In the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the narrator Oskar calls this deep feeling “heavy boots”. He’s only nine years old, a little boy who lost his father on 9/11, but he walks through life like he’s trudging through waist-deep snow, pushing upstream in a strong river, taking each step with weighted shoes.
In the book, there’s a passage where he is speaking to his mom, simply listing all the things that give him heavy boots. It’s inspiring, in a sad sort of way, because sometimes I feel exactly the same way.
So, what gives me heavy boots?
… Alzheimer’s disease, condescending people on the Internet, how my insurance company doesn’t really care about my wellbeing, how I can’t stop biting my nails, text-speak, regret, short-term mission trips, arthritis, kids who can’t get adopted because they’re too old to be “cute”, local commercials, when people don’t understand that they’re being made fun of, the flowers at Wal-Mart that have been dyed unnatural colors to make them more attractive, the people who think those neon flowers are attractive and actually buy them, parents who ignore their children, headaches, middle school, church-shopping, elitism, unrequited love, when I get presents that show that the person doesn’t really understand who I am, daytime TV doctors, homeless people who hold up signs on the side of the road, widows, husbands and fathers who go to war, kitchens that don’t have dishwashers, and knowing that having ten dollars in my pocket makes me richer than two thirds of the whole world.
Will once told me that one of my greatest traits was that I felt deeply, both the pain and the joy surrounding me. Both are good, he said.
Although it may be tempting to only talk about the bright and beautiful parts of the world, the truth is that this life is worth grieving over. The people around me deserve my sorrow. The world is broken, and to deny that fact would be refusing to acknowledge how it all should be. Not only in the big, sweeping ways- the poverty and injustice and rape- but also the thousand little ways. So, I feel the weight of it all sometimes. And on those days, I just keep moving forward, acknowledging the tragedy and lamenting the pain, waiting for redemption. Walking in my heavy boots.