Every year, as part of the frenzy, there is a usual and requisite cleaning/organizing that occurs right about when the kids are done with school.
Major sorting, cleaning, and purging take over my every waking thought for a couple weeks. Dust is harvested from deep places in the house. Lists of repairs are written with CAPITAL LETTERS. Cupboards and closets are attacked and the evil scourge that is clutter is decimated from my consciousness.
Even email mailboxes aren’t safe.
Calm and serenity come over me during this time. I am driven into ever-widening circles of instant gratification (throwing
crap stuff OUT all over the house!). My mind and body are busy, I feel content. Just don’t interrupt me with some silly need for sustenance or get in my way.
But this year, friends, it was epic. I reached the mountaintop. I had a spiritual awakening and a psychic experience that was totally transformative.
All kidding aside, unless you consider that it happened during an insane heat-wave which made my furious activity in the house a strange sort of all-in-one vision quest/sweat lodge experience.
I heard a message at the beginning of the sort, “Three items a day for June, July, and August”. Meaning, three things needed to leave my possession for the each of the roughly 90 days of summer.
It was already mid-June and I knew I would be gone for three weeks on vacation. So I needed to ramp up my pace from the outset. The parameters were this: the items could be donated, sold, or trashed. But at least 270 of them had to be out by September 1st.
Two weeks ago I stopped counting at 430. I’d estimate that we have cleared 500 so far. And counting!
The biggest item was an uncomfortable chair. The smallest was an earring. The most dumbfounding were the 15 contact lens cases.
Epiphany #1: Getting rid of those contact lens cases allowed me to see so much better: All that stuff I was holding on to, was requiring mental energy to catalogue. As the images of my possessions made that upside down topsy turvy journey from retina to brain (digression: I tried to get my son to explain this to me and I still don’t get why we don’t see everything upside down) I was using energy and thought energy to be amongst them. Co-existing with stuff, requiring psychic and spiritual energy to move amongst all of it. Everytime I looked at a shirt that was cute but uncomfortable to the third pasta strainer, I actually bruised a little psychically, because I had to form a relationship with that particular thing I owned.
I finally get the ascetic piece of spiritual life. Because it doesn’t matter what type of organizing, nor how much, I did for the years and years I had been collecting all the stuff I owned, if it was using too much of myself to own it, then my possessions were really possessing me. And although I am not nor will I ever be a minimalist, I have a new appreciation for the serene landscape. Not too much to look at, in other words. And the “too” or the “much” means something different to everyone.
Fascinating were the “in case” items I got rid of. Very meta, those contact lens “cases”, maybe that’s the point of why I had so many. I also had, in multiples: juice pitchers, navy blue tops, jeans (for weight loss or weight gain), copies of novels, laundry detergent, tongs, you name it.
Epiphany #2: standing in the hallway with the gazillion contact lens case, I had to ask myself what freaking life circumstance might ever promote me needing over a dozen of them at once?
When had I become such a hoarder? I say I trust the Universe is abundant, but do I really trust the Universe enough to provide for me in every moment? Because there I was, evidently preparing for some kind of contact lens storage Apocalypse. Do I trust that should I have at some point in the future, this or say, some unforeseen frozen condiment emergency, ala Martha Stewart might have, whereby loads of fresh pesto has been made and I don’t have enough ice cube trays into which I can freeze the parceled glops (aha! But I do have contact lens cases!), do I trust the Universe enough to know I don’t need to hang on to these friggin’ plastic soul-sucking little clutter vermin? And why am I even renting out space to this banality?
Epiphany #3: Out went the gifts. The things I was hanging onto because they reminded me of the person who gave them to me. Isn’t my heart big enough to hold the people I love? The gift was the offering, and the receiving, and is lasting.
Epiphany #4: Va-moos were the items held out of guilt, the ones I paid too much for, or bought to fill myself, or distract myself. I am already forgiven.
Epiphany #5: Uncomfortable clothes. Gone, and with them, the low self-regard I had to consider spending one more second in discomfort.
Epiphany #6: Books I wanted to want to read but know I won’t. Out. And I was flooded with the joy of enjoying what I really do enjoy, in the gradually expanding space and time around me.
Epiphanies #7-150: stale food, broken things, spare parts, etc. etc. etc., enough to fill a museum of ad nauseum.
But there is one thing I kept which according to the new Rules of Epiphany, should have been junked. It is a small urn. The caption on the picture of the adorable! fluffy! wolfy! dog reads: Ed P Clark’s Eskimo Dog Ranch, North Woodstock NH.
And I’m sorry, but anyone who would love a dog that much, to keep him that…portable…it’s just enough to make me cry. Plus the love emanating from the actual matter of the tin….that’s stuff I definitely want close by. It gives me energy to look at it, to think about all that love between dog and person bouncing it’s way upside down and topsy turvy into my brain. Sigh.