The first truth of my walkabout
My walkabout is about freedom, so I am making changes to allow for more of this in my life. I weigh the excitement of new frontiers against my need for the safety and security — trying to find the right balance.
First on the agenda is getting rid of my material possessions. Sounds drastic . . . and it is. This is my second go-round of what I call “zen-ing down.” I am a regular follower of the blogs Becoming Minimalist and Zen Habits . . . and I get it. I see that “My Stuff” slows me down. Cleaning it, arranging it and maintaining it wastes my time. It is a ball and chain that I am tired of having to haul around with me.
As I begin to sell and give away things, however, I am overcome with grief. I tell myself that change always brings loss, and I decide that this is the first truth of my walkabout:
I will feel loss.
There is no one to blame but myself. I am instigating the change and I will be changed. Things will be left behind. People will disappear from my life. I will never go back to what I have now and all it holds. (And isn’t that what I wanted?)
I run across this quote by Jan Myrdal:
“Traveling is not just seeing the new; it is also leaving behind. Not just opening doors; also closing them, never to return. But the place you have left forever is always there for you to see, whenever you shut your eyes.”
I am not sure about the last line. I am not at all convinced that this place I am leaving will be there when I shut my eyes.
As I pick up each of my possessions, I relive the part of my life when it made it’s appearance. Some things trigger sweet memories. Some things kick me in the gut, and I wonder why I’ve kept them around. Other things set me musing for a long time.
I come up with criteria for keeping and giving away. If it makes me feel good, I put it in the “Keep” pile. If it brings up not- so-happy or neutral feelings, it gets put in the “To Go” pile. A pair of exquisite earrings from an estranged friend is tossed in “To Go”. A small plastic Santa salt-shaker, proudly gifted to me by my then 4 year-old daughter, goes in the “Keep” pile. Wherever I land in the future, I want to be surrounded by the treasures in my “Keep” pile.
I also see that it is not likely I will achieve the possession-less utopia of my dreams. I decide to get a small storage unit and this feels better. It tethers me to the earth somehow. I know a man who, during a romantic break-up, moved his things into a storage unit. He put his easy chair there and when he was feeling low – he would go to his storage unit, sit in his chair and look at his things. I understand why.
As I pack up my past, I time travel backward and then forward again, reviewing my life up to the present. I see my story from beginning to end; from landing 20 years ago at the Medford airport with my husband and three-year-old daughter– to now. Confused while living that life, I can now tie up most of the loose ends into a package that makes sense. I feel understanding and compassion for the people we were; our failings and the things we endured. I give myself credit for having worked it for all it was worth — and now it’s over. And this is profound.
A friend gave me a pair of earrings, each one a single spiraling silver wire that ends in a fresh water pearl. She tells me that the pearl is the symbol of a person’s essence. This is the first possession I own given in the spirit of my future.
I discover that the antidote for my grief is the excitement of anticipating my future.
So I put on the pearl earrings and it helps.