The Weight

Editor’s Note:  Brian Marsh will be one of the storytellers at the next ‘Tell Us Something’ EXTREMES event THIS THURSDAY, 21 March, at the re-opened Top Hat, from 6-8pm


in a life filled with more ups and downs in the past year than in the prior 47, one of the ups involved something going down.

my weight.

i walked into my doctor’s office for a check up in January, 2012, basically looking like this…

…and feeling like this…

according to my doctor, i needed to lose about 20-25 pounds to get down to a ‘healthy’ weight.

since that time, i’ve lost roughly 45 pounds.

what’s my secret, you ask?

P90X? Weight Watchers? Sensa? Liposuction?


simply go on what i call the ‘Low Employment/High Anxiety Diet’.

the book and video series is not forthcoming, because it can all be boiled down into 8 words.

eat less.

run more.

work less.

stress more.

how do i look as a result? well, most people have said ‘healthy’, ‘fit’, even ‘great’.

how do i feel?

that’s a different story.

it’s one thing to lose the weight that accumulates on your body from losing your mojo and your sense of discipline.

it’s another thing to lose the weight that accumulates in your spirit from losing your job and your sense of self.

it’s one thing to jettison a girdle of gratuitous girth from my gut.

it’s another thing entirely to axe an anchor of anxiety and anger from my anima, to release a repugnant remnant of resentment from the recesses of my heart, to shed a significant slab of shame from my psyche and sorrow from my soul.

the first kind of weight can be worked off with help from a personal trainer.

the second kind of weight should be worked through with help from a personal therapist. or spiritual director. or both.

but there is at least one thing in common when seeking to be done with both kinds of weight.

they must be embraced before they can be released.

the reality of how i had failed to take care of my body came crashing down on me that morning on the scale in my doctor’s office. but it still took another few months before i actually started doing something about it.

and what motivated me to take action was the deeper reality that my sense of self was struggling to survive. my existential angst was eating me alive, and the pressure to prove my worth was pounding my passion into a pit of submission.

i needed a release, a space to recover and restore some sense of sanity in the midst of all the madness.

so i started to run more.

and i started to eat less.

and in doing this, i subconsciously began to embrace the reality of my physical burden. and gradually, i found that the burden was being released.

the malaise undergirding the second weight was the catalyst for unburdening the first weight.

i’d hoped that the converse would be true.

but the only running i seem to do internally is away from my fears and failures, my guilt and gloominess.

and the only thing i appear to be eating away at within myself – in my anger and anxiety, my sorrow and shame – IS my self.

i’m incarcerated in self-imposed isolation, trapped in a cell of self-recrimination and discrimination stemming from circumstances beyond my control and responses within my control.

and as much as i may want to be released from this self-exile, i just can’t seem to embrace what it is that got me there in the first place.

MY self.

MY story.


and then something occurred to me that i had forgotten amongst all the ‘whys’ and the ‘MY’s’.

it came in the form of a song i’ve known for decades that just happened to appear as i was flipping channels aimlessly the other night.

from the first verse sang solo, the song develops as the lonely, isolated voice is engaged with other voices from different cultures and genders. and together, they create a chorus of connection and compassion, a harmonious haven of help, a symphony of soul.

the refrain says…

Take a load off Fanny

Take a load for free

Take a load off Fanny

AND…you put the load right on me.

the song is The Weight’.

the ‘MY’s are embraced by the ‘WE’s’.

the fears and failures are embraced by grace and love.

and the weight is, imperfectly and incompletely, released.

as it is in song, may it be in life.


To see more of Brian’s writing, check out the Brian Marsh main page here at Make it Missoula. And for even more, check out his personal blog, Apocalypso Now.


i’m a wanderer and a wonderer. a percussive and paradoxical pastor who exists happily (and hope-full-y) at the intersection of doubt and faith. journeying with my unique and special family (my wife, Kirsten, and sons, Ian and Trevor) whilst temporarily splitting my time between two unique and beautiful places (Missoula, Montana and Ukiah, California). restless and lazy, usually amazed, always in process, i’m continually surprised and usually delighted at discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary, the ‘sacred’ in the ‘secular’, the shafts of light that sneak into the shrouds of darkness. i drum decently, surf poorly, love multicultural food, music, and community, and living in the ‘Zoo.