Sunday, May 28, 2017
I've learned of the death of three friends in the past two weeks. Such knowledge has led me to contemplation.
As I spend each day packing boxes and discarding unwanted 'stuff' in preparation for a residence move, I can't avoid thinking about how important it is to put one foot in front of the other and plan the future even as I deal with the acceptance of the loss of friends no longer a part of my day to day life.
Throughout the past two years more friends than I can count on all fingers and toes have either moved away from my little town or they have died.
Despite this deep sense of loss, I continue to pack the boxes.
But along with the packing, I am feeling a need to purge; a need to eliminate so much 'stuff' that fills my home. A garage sale helped. And further sales and give-aways of 'stuff' have been helpful as well.
As I participate in this purging of physical items, I make the attempt to purge emotionally and spiritually. I yearn for simplicity.
As I sit here in my living-room that now more closely resembles a warehouse I realize that I can't even remember what I have packed in the, at least a dozen, boxes that sit on the bare hardwood floor in front of me.
Not only do I not remember what the boxes contain, I realize that my life is carrying on quite well, thank you, without the contents. There have been fewer dishes to wash; fewer ornaments to dust; fewer carpets to vacuum.
It is the loss of friendships over the past couple of years that has led me to realize, not for the first time in my life, the futility of filling my home, and my life, with 'stuff'.
And then I will visualize perhaps an ornamental angel that was heavy and very difficult to wrap and pack in its box. And my thoughts go directly to the love and the pleasure evident in his eyes as he gifted me with this angel.
And when I look at the small, slightly battered, old three-legged table, I don't see its old age. No, what I see is my dear mother, as she dusted this table and the telephone that sat upon it in the front hall of my childhood home. How can I possibly let this table leave my life?
I have far too many framed prints and paintings hanging on the walls of this house; each with its own story. Maybe one was painted by my brother, by my daughters, or, yes, even by my grandson when he was a very little boy. How does one not pack these things and take them to the new home?
I remember a time in my life, many years ago, when I moved to a new country. Other than clothing, I carried no 'stuff' to this new home. When I moved into the first flat there was no furniture. Something deep inside of me liked this. I had a desire to live in this way without material 'stuff'.
But, of course, this desire was fleeting; not one that could be fulfilled because I did not live alone. Family requires necessities like beds and tables and TV sets. A neighbor who lived down the street from this flat felt compassion for a family that she believed were poor because they had no furniture. The neighbor gifted me with an upholstered chair. I didn't want it but how could I not accept this generous gift? And so it began. In no time at all the little flat was filled with sofas and beds and chairs and dishes and all the usual 'stuff' one finds in a western home.
And when we left this flat it was necessary to pack all this 'stuff' into boxes to move to a more permanent home.
I don't remember today what any of that furniture and other 'stuff' was. I do remember the upholstered chair, but only because of the nature of its arrival.
My life in terms of 'stuff' is a contradiction. I am packing. I am purging. I am down-sizing and I have a desire to live in a Zen environment.
Yet, yesterday, I removed the laptop from my desk, googled the Walmart website, and bought myself a new tea kettle that should be arriving this coming week.
And life goes on.