Response to “Daily Prompt”: Carry

There’s a novel — if you’ve taken a high school level English course, you’ve probably read it — called “The Things We Carried.” It’s a semi-autobiographical narrative by Tim O’Brien about the inner lives of soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War. The opening chapter focuses on the objects the soldiers carried — pocket knives, sedatives, letters, the New Testament, etc.

O’Brien is clever. In talking about their possessions, he humanized the soldiers and gave the reader a view into their lives. While materialism is often decried as a character flaw, the possessions we choose to take through life can be revealing as to our inner narratives.

One of my most prized possessions, if I’m being honest with myself, is an ugly stuffed horse I’ve had since third grade. It’s name is Horsey. (Don’t judge me; I was eight.)

Horsey was my first introduction to the meaninglessness of appearances. What a person, or animal, is on the outside says little about who they are on the inside.

Horsey hasn’t always been my favorite object. My grandmother made it for me during my ‘everything-has-to-be-horses’ phase. When she showed it to me, I didn’t like it. It’s neck was too long, it’s mane (which, after millions of runs through the laundry, is no longer with us) was made of coarse yarn, it’s eyes were drawn on. It was nothing like I had imagined it would be.

I took it home anyway. After a few days, it started to grow on me. I started carrying Horsey around with me — everywhere. And I mean, EVERYWHERE. All pictures of me between third grade and fifth grade feature Horsey, tucked under my left arm. After that, Horsey retired to the pasture of my bed. That’s her home, to this day.

What does this reveal about me? Well, Horsey was my first introduction to the meaninglessness of appearances. What a person, or animal, is on the outside says little about who they are on the inside.

This realization is, for me, reassuring. My outward appearance is not particularly impressive (frizzy hair, loose clothes, no makeup) but what may be construed as a laid-back look says nothing about my personality — which is anything except laid-back.

Horsey, the strange-looking equine, taught me something about life. That is why I carry her with me.

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