June 6, 2010

* "Want what you have" ... some thoughts

Want What You Have - Chapter 2, a recent post over at Pattys' Nomadic Journal, got me thinking.  My earthly goods have dwindled to a mere fourteen small boxes.  (By the way, the big box is NOT mine ... it's the water heater!)  Very nearly everything I once owned, cherished, and might I add, was very attached to, is gone.  When I began to downsize seven years ago after both my parents had departed, everything seemed so very very important.  I wanted to keep it all.  Each piece I touched, everything I picked up had a memory or some deep meaning.  It was difficult.  I transported half of their treasures with me to Vancouver Island.  What would not fit into my large home was put into storage.  Three years ago, I downsized the large 3,000 sq. ft.  house and moved to an 1100 sq. ft. home in Victoria.  Doing so was easier.  Things didn't seem quite so important.  The attachment was easing.  I was gaining a new perspective.  "It's only stuff', was my prevailing thought.  "I will not be able to take one tiny drop of all these belongings with me in the end .... so really, what's it all about?"  I pondered this and over time all my earthly goods diminished in their importance.

As time passed, it was interesting to see what rose to the top of the barrel, so to speak.  What was really important to me?  In the end, it was my collection of artist materials, my art, some good music, candles of all things, (I adore candle light), my good Royal Crown Derby dishes (my 21st birthday present) and family silver which emerged from the china cabinet for every day use.  I began to realize the 'important' things which were saved for 'good' or for special celebrations must become part of my every day life.  I began the ritual of preparing myself a wonderful healthy evening meal, setting the table in a formal fashion which I adore, lighting the candles, putting on some fabulous  music ... and voila ... I developed a new love and respect for myself and the pure joy of an evening meal alone.  I began taking care of myself.  That horrible lonely feeling which prevailed in my gut on a constant basis, began to, ever so slowly slowly disappear.

Last summer I tackled the storage locker.  It was stacked to the rafters.  What did I learn?  After five years in storage, your treasures turn to junk.  "What was I thinking?" constantly came to mind as I dug through boxes.  Not much from that locker remains with me today.

Leaving for Mexico, I pared down even more.  I walked away from most of it.  It just wasn't important any more.  What did I bring with me?  Some precious art materials, my writing and my journals, my art and a few cloths.  Oh, and my good dishes and the family silver.  They seem to be symbolic and I adore them. That's really about it.

Want what I have?  Yes, I do.  Will I ever gather as much 'stuff' close to me again?  Not in your life.  I'm 'flying solo traveling light".  Yes, I will make myself a comfortable home.  Yes, I will adore collecting things which make my heart sing while I make my home a haven.  I have criteria now, however.  1.  I have to love it.  2.  I have to love it.  3.  I have to love it.  If I don't love it,  if it does not make my heart sing and my feet dance, it doesn't come home with me.

What has this all taught me?  Surrender and Acceptance.  These two are big lessons for me.  When I surrender and accept I find peace.  I didn't need all that 'stuff'.  It was weighing me down.  It was heavy.  I wasn't aware of that until I began to let it go.  Somehow, without all those belongings, a clearer picture of myself and who I really am has emerged.  I am not my 'stuff'.  There is no relation.  I love myself more just the way I am.  I'm not 'longing' for more.  (Well, most of the time anyway.)  I definitely find more contentment than I used to.  It's freedom.  Freedom from responsibility of the caring and demanding nature of all these earthly goods.  I have stopped identifying "myself and my stuff' as one in the same.  I know I'm a separate entity, a free spirit, a good and decent soul, just the way I am.  In every way, good enough, just the way I am. Do I ever doubt that?  Sure!  Do I want to move forward?  Do I have goals I want to achieve? Do I have creative dreams? Do I want to grow spiritually? YES, to all of the above. YES!  Of course I do.  I think that is an integral part of the human spirit.  I wouldn't want it any other way.  That's the spice and excitement of life.  Somehow, letting go of the great burden has allowed me to experience joy again.  True joy.  Nothing to do with the huge marketing machine which rolls over all of us on a daily basis.  Nothing to do with this consumer society we have created for ourselves.  Nothing to do with societies expectations. It's all about 'authenticity'.  (My word for the year.)  It's about my passions and finding them again.  I feel well on my way.  Yes, I still have fears to push through.  Now I know I can do it.  Now I know I WILL do it.  (Wow, did I actually just say "I WILL do it"?  That statement alone is kind of scary!)

I also know so much of my 'fear' left during the process of letting go of my 'stuff'.  That's a tough one to explain, but as I moved through the downsizing process and moved forward with my life, fear of many things abated.  I was able to push myself out of my comfort zones into places I had not been for years.

It has been a process.  A slow and wonderful process.  I am still emerging.

Is it ever perfect, Patty?  Will we ever be completely and utterly content with 'what we have'?  I've come to the conclusion the work on this journey is never finished.  It will always be there for us.  It will keep us going.  It will awaken our passions again and again.  It will scare us spitless.  It will pull us, kicking and screaming forward.  We chose that when we came here.  I feel privileged.

This has been such an interesting exercise for me, Patty.  I had not thought it through.  Much has surfaced for me.  Thank you!

Bertrand Russell It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.

Thomas Arnold Bennett You wake up in the morning, and your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life. It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions. No one can take it from you. And no one receives either more or less than you receive.

Albert Einstein The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. The trite subjects of human efforts, possessions, outward success, luxury have always seemed to me contemptible.

I'm not sure I agree with Albert so far as "contemptible" goes.  Interesting thought process though.  Ponder, ponder.

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