I just finished reading Weight by Jeanette Winterson. I read through the novel in three days, I could not put it down. It is part of a series of books retelling myths and Winterson chose to focus on the myth of Atlas. It is a great read and I highly recommend it. The book is about retelling, about stories, about choices. At some point in the book the narrator states that we are each stuck in orbit between our past and out future. That our future holds just as much weight as our past and most people are not strong enough to pull themselves out of the trajectory between where they have been and where they are going. It is why the ancients speak about fate because most poeple do not have the strength to even try to remove themselves from the orbit begun by past choices, it is easy to hurdle toward a future if one believes that it is destined. But choice is what makes the illusion of fate a reality. The choice to remain burdened by the weight of the future, to wear blinders to possibility, to not see that the universe will not collapse if we choose not to uphold it.

Atlas feels the weight of the burden placed on him by Zeus as punishment for making war with the gods. He cannot let it go. It is his destiny, his fate, but really his choice. Why does he hold this weight? Why does he remain still, stable, burdened? What is freedom really, but the choice to be free? We all have our burdens, we all bear weight, we all have many possible futures that will not be decided by fate, but decided by our choices. That realization holds much power, but also much responsibility. And it is that which freedom is - liberation combined with responsibility. The acknowledgement that we can choose differently and the decision to do so even when the weight of the world is upon us.

This book had such an impact on me that I am writing my own telling of the myth of Atlas. Or rather I am using the mythic characters from the tale and writing another story about weight. It is about the weight we have on each other. The weight of our love and desire, the weight of having to be responsible for those we come into contact with.

How much weight do others have on us? How much weight do we have on them?

However much weight we each let the other have.

There is no better opportunity to address the question of fate then the moment when another's orbit intersects our own. There is always a choice in how we respond, what we do and whether we choose to change our course.