Bless your uneasiness as a sign that there is still life in you.
~ Dag Hammarskjöld
I am still unearthing treasures and going through long-ago-sealed boxes this week. It’s odd to me what I have saved. It’s been an emotional excavation with each piece carefully uncovered and exposed. Things I coveted, things I held out of obligation to the giver and artifacts of my time-capsule of a past life.
If I’m not flooded with bliss, I am holding on for all of the wrong reasons. The exercise is to “thank the item” and then let it go. A process rooted firmly in gratitude.
(There is joy to be had in the repurposing and recycling of things as well. A tray of ink with these old handmade paper envelopes has given me inspiration. Reimagining the lives even of inanimate things. Squeezing out every bit of happiness and usefulness I can … )
A friend wrote me privately last week about my Dostadning post. She described how much lighter she felt after processing many of the “things” in her world and went on to share an important piece that I have left out: what to do with the mental clutter.
Hers involved a lot of important things on a list somewhere that had been needing her attention. Our mental clutter is at least as great as our physical “stuff”. Tying up loose ends, preparing for a day much different than the one we’re living now and getting a firm grip on a future without us in it, is easy stuff to put off.
The trouble is we think we have time.
Hearing of her experience made me aware of some of my own mental clutter and how paralyzing it can be. My Five Wishes document remains unsigned. K has been asking about a Living Trust and I have resisted. Things accumulate, pile up and bear a weight that is nearly impossible to measure until it is lifted.
All of this brings me to an even more difficult thing: emotional clutter. This is less like a heavy suitcase and more like pebbles in the shoe. This one is sticky and complex. The letting go is even more difficult, the daily annoyance even more profound.
This is what is in front of me. This is what pesters me as I try moving forward. Each step, I notice it. It isn’t pain, but it is unwelcome all the same. My practice is becoming one of attention and awareness. Is there a place in that for pebbles in my shoe ?
The rock in the shoe.
Time to be free of those pebbles.
As I’ve mentioned over and over, the year has been nothing like I might have imagined. I have learned, not only to be at peace with that, but also to embrace it. It was made more difficult than it needed to be, by hanging on to the emotional clutter. Only a momentous pause could have helped me to see that.
A writer I follow posed a question about what we have “made” this year. Having read so much about what this year has taken, it was refreshing to adjust the beam onto what we have created. Here, in no particular order, is a short version of that list for me:
Winter can be a dark season in so many ways. The days are short, the light is dim, the nights are long. My own seasons seem to closely follow those of the planet. As this spring approaches I can imagine us all in lawn chairs, pulled up close against the edge of light, marveling at the vastness of this place we call home.
I’ve realized that as the unfolding begins in the world around me, that my night dreams have been taken over by birds. I fall asleep to the slow, flapping wings of the heron. I watch the bitterns raise their necks to blend with their surroundings. The little birds are always there, in song and in frantic motion. Even in dream I am scolded by the wrens.
I love that they have joined me in these dark, quiet hours. I sleep better with their gentle presence. Maybe they are here to teach me or have brought messages on their wings. I have stopped wondering or caring what purpose they might offer and instead I am letting them be as they are.
Letting all things be as they are.
I’ve finally taken down the Christmas tree. It brought a colorful illumination to the cold dark mornings that followed cold, sleepless nights.
Last week I heard it remarked that zen practice is like walking into a void. It felt like a deja-vu moment as just days before, as I was falling asleep, I had texted myself these three words to remember later:
Be. The. Void.
I am sifting through the life I lived when I wanted to be “basking in the fullness”. It feels different now, or rather I’M different now. Time for the gentle breakdown of what was. Today I seek only the emptiness. Lucky for me, I finally understand it is not the opposite of full.
Come walk with me …
(The Wordless part of my Wednesday given to you on a Thursday)
Thoroughly enjoyed today’s blog. Most things you write make me stop and truly digest your words…this one really resonated with me, thanks!
Thanks for being here. I think for people our age it is becoming more and more relevant, more and more timely. Freeing ourselves of the clutter is a life long pursuit but there is no wrong time to start. Now about all my digital messes … that’s going to take some time 🙃
This is lovely. We so often adhere to the “shoulds” and neglect the wants. I love how decluttering stuff led to a very full emptiness. Also, I must look for your cards – your drawings and photos are just wonderful!
Thank you so much ! Lots of drawings and art on my @braenstorm IG account. Last on the list will be digital clutter ! Thanks for reading.
Thank you for this, and always for your thoughtful words. I read Katrina’s post this morning and was inspired too. My pandemic experience has been very different from that of many people, going from solitude and time to a crowded house and no time, rather than vice-versa. It’s about to change, and I will be looking toward your post and Katrina’s and others to figure out how I want step into next normal.
P.S. I’m very impressed with how you have spent the past year!
First, thank you. Once I stopped worrying about what I “should and shouldn’t” be doing I felt true liberation. I am listening to my heart these days and letting “what I love” drive the bus. Without the unexpected pause of this past year I might still be clinging to the notion that there is a certain way for me to be in the world. I have discovered instead that I am “of” the world. There aren’t different versions of me. There is only who I am. As long as I am true to my own heart, who I am, will always be enough.
I understand that your world has been quite different too. From this distance I can see how you have stretched yourself, not to be something or someone you’re not, but a more open and full and authentic you. You can do hard things. You can follow through. And you can thrive !