The burden of being Atlas

As I’ve been working with nonjudgment, I have realized that one of the big burdens of judgment is the burden of playing god. I’ve got to decide what everything is. Like a judge who never gets a day off, I have to rule on everything, all the time.

The other day during my quiet time, I got in touch with a related feeling: the burden of having to hold up my life all the time. God, what a burden that is! I’m sure you know what I mean. In my mind’s eye, I am like a little Atlas, constantly holding up the heavens so that they don’t come crashing down on my head. There is not only the burden of holding it all up. There is also the fear of how it will feel if it comes crashing down. And there is the constant anxiety stemming from my validity as a person feeling on the line—that validity being directly tied to “how am I doing” in the holding up process. So two questions constantly float at the edge of consciousness: How am I doing in holding it up? (i.e., Am I valid?) and Is it going to stay up? (i.e., Am I safe?) Combine this with the fact that I’m never quite sure what “it” is—what all is on the list of what I am supposed to be holding up—and the whole situation is not very conducive to peace.

Once I realized that I carry this constant “Atlas burden,” I also thought that this is the very sort of thing the Course is trying to release us from. In light of the Course’s view of reality and of God, the Atlas burden is totally unnecessary, and even arrogant. I mean, in the big picture, how much really depends on me? Does the nature of reality depend on me? Does the existence of God depend on me? Does the reality of my brothers depend on me? Does even my own reality depend on me? Yes, there are things in the illusion that depend on me. But does my Atlas anxiety really help me fulfill those responsibilities? Or does it keep me from injecting into them the very sense of peace and rest that would cause them to be truly fulfilled?

Even though part of me can’t let go of that Atlas feeling—if I relax, what will happen?—I also feel a deep attraction to the idea that Someone Else has got it covered, that the things that really matter are in better Hands, and that I can therefore rest in those same Hands. I love the idea of rest, true rest.

So for the last few days, my practice has been focused on trying to let go of that sense of burden. I’ve been trying to realize the ridiculousness of my position. It’s like I’m an ant holding up a piece of straw and thinking that if I let go, the world will go up in smoke. How arrogant is that? I’ve been trying to see the arrogance of it and relax into a sense that God really does have it covered; that reality, including my own reality, is in good Hands, and that even those things I do have to hold up can be better held up if I let Him do it through me. I’ve been practicing that line from Helen’s original notes: “Underneath are the everlasting Arms,” and trying to have a sense of resting on those Arms, knowing that, in fact, they are doing the job I so foolishly thought was up to me.