What we gain from letting go and Barbara Becker on Thoreau's old wisdom
I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.
Love this Mary Oliver´s poem, so simple
Simplicity, oh yes!
A poem this sunday from Tomas Tranströmer:
Deep in the forest
there’s an unexpected clearing
which can be reached
only by someone who
has lost his way
With a lot of LOVE
If I might take a bit of a different tack in this simplify prompt, I’d like to think about some of the things in the past that I’ve purged and what I gained from it. I can let things go. I’m a purger by nature and have always gotten a hit of dopamine from getting rid of things. Somehow by getting rid of things, I feel that my brain is a bit more organized, a bit freer of clutter, all but, dare I say, empty. No, never empty; that takes a lot more work than simply getting rid of material goods. I actually have a place in my closet where I stash things for a later donation drop which is close to capacity now.
But in the past: There was a time in my 50s when I looked around and wondered why all of my accumulated books just sat on bookshelves, showing themselves as past relics of enjoyment, education, or deeper inner work. That’s all they did was sit there. They could, and in my mind should, be out in circulation for others to read. I asked myself…What if someone I know wants to read one of them and it is gone? They can go to the library. What if people come over and see empty book shelves thus thinking I don’t read? Then that person doesn’t know me very well and it doesn’t matter anyway. What about my favorite books? Ok, I decided to keep only my favorite books. So, I stacked boxes full of books that I knew would never be read by me again and took them to the library for donation.
I felt that dopamine hit as I unloaded those books into the library donation bin, knowing someone else might read them and I had less stuff at home. My brain was less cluttered. And the books left at home were my favorites, stacked on various shelves, displayed according to genre or size.
Then maybe a couple of years later, I wondered why my favorite books were sitting collecting dust, knowing that I would not reread them because I don’t really reread books. I always think there are so many others out there to read that I couldn’t possibly reread one. On my walks, I often find myself perusing the many Little Free Libraries around town and thought those would be the perfect places for my favorite books. That was my next purge; scattering my favorites around town. Another dopamine hit for each little library. I have never had one regret about releasing those books. Rather, I’m grateful they’re out there for someone else to read.
And now, I have a new collection of books. They are grief books. They are my companions and I have no intention anytime soon of distributing them to others. When others need them, I buy them a new one. I do reread these books because they have gotten me through my most difficult years. They have gotten me through, book by book, the grief from losing my son. I wonder; I wonder if I will ever want to purge these books. I can’t imagine a dopamine hit from the purge of these books. I believe they will stay with me until my dying day and then my daughter will have to decide what goes and what stays.
In the meantime, the donation stash in my closet grows weekly until it is time to drive it all away; donate, dopamine hit, repeat…
Upon reading this prompt, I immediately thought of the objects lurking in the corners of my home, the stacks on surfaces in every room, the storage spaces that have become where I cast the items of which I can’t bear to toss, organize, or display. Then I imagined ridding myself of the thoughts in my mind that keep me from initial slumbers or or those that bolt me awake in the dark moments or early morning before the sun even even thinks of showing herself. I boiled my ideas down, as if making a reduction to use in the recipe of life: I wish to let go of regrets, lost time, and self judgment. This is when my “awethenticlife” can rise like the sun on a new day.
I have been wanting to open the email with this prompt since I saw it in my inbox, and tonight I was heading towards another bedtime without having done so. I had checked off plenty of other boxes, and, left a few to tackle in the morning. I thought my anxiety was satiated by a day of accomplishing Things in a world that seems to need so much. But I noticed an itch in my mind, and admitted that I had to stop allowing TIJ to be one of the boxes I would leave for the morning, over and over again. In my ideal simplified life, writing is the first part of my day, every day. Patient and present community is right next to it. These two things are never far from my mind, yet I regularly fall into periods of distraction and pursue new activities that I hope will lead to a new me, forgetting that the me I'm seeking is already here in the simple. I only have to trust it enough to stay.
Tonight, I would - I will try to - let go of lists, let go of mistakes I cannot fix, and let go of feelings I am supposed to have (but don't). Without these layers of my personal onion, I hope to enjoy a little more of tomorrow's sweet.