We all do it differently; this is unavoidable. Though many people can't seem to stop trying to be someone else, living life vicariously instead of observing and enjoying its uniqueness.
My family here on the east coast--over the last hundred odd years--collected box upon box of belongings. It's all in the house in Mattapoisett. There are the toys from perhaps three or four generations. From stuffed dolls with real hair, protected by plastic bags whose sole purpose is attempting to contain the stuffing-turned-dust from falling out of myriad holes in its hand-sewn body, to the tin wind-up toys of the forties and fifties, the carriages and old bikes with hard rubber tires and hand painted logos made with pride in the USA, to the Legos and Lincoln Logs, the Tinker Toys, the Batmobiles and Six Million Dollar Men, the Atari 2600's along with the battered joysticks and paddles that took the brunt of the abuse from impatient, ever-strengthening hands controlled by fidgety, ever-shortening attention spans.
There are dinnerware sets. There are old globes and maps. There are hundreds of volumes of tax documents, receipts, bank balances, and communiques. Clothes, furniture, pots, pans, tables, chairs, old doorbells, planters, watering cans, piggy banks, clothes hangers, racks, basins, bags, boxes, hats, pins, pens and pencils dull and sharp as tacks.
And it's all just sitting there exactly in conflict with the way I am living my life.
I don't know if it's a sign of my generation or not. I don't know if it has anything to do with the war we're in or the reason we're in it. I don't know if it's as much to do with the realization that I've wasted so much time standing still and aging instead of running, climbing, jumping, and flying. But I just don't feel like I want whoever comes next in the line of my family to have to deal with it all.
I want to die cleanly.
I don't want whoever's left standing, holding the court documents that entitle them to my stuff--and this means all of my stuff, my mom's and aunt's and uncle's and grandparent's--to have to gaze incomprehensibly at a seemingly insurmountable expanse of tangible objects, feeling the same overwhelming sense of powerlessness that I have felt over the last year.
And so, I'm cleaning house starting with the one I actually live in.
It's been almost a year since I packed my cellar full of the boxes and bags of "usable" items and moved them into here. And there they have sat, picked over a few times, but largely ignored.
The Goodwill just opened a store a couple miles away. They've seen my car pull up more than a few times, tripping the hose that lays outside the loading door signaling a new donor's arrival. I can control this cycle as long as I stay on the other side of that door. Not to mention that I'd rather not see the price they put on my erstwhile possessions.
It feels so good to move it out. It is almost like a brand new emotion is triggered when I see a space in the corner, or a drawer in a bureau that can find a new use. My house is as alive as I am, and has to be taken care of from time to time to ensure its health and well being. The chimney had to get professionally swept last week, just like I have to go to the doctor this week for a physical, to make sure everything is moving along the way it should.
Jodi and I cleaned the whole downstairs yesterday--vacuumed and mopped to a squeaky shine. We moved the couches, picked up the mats and the rugs, rescued the many spiders who had taken shelter in the corners and under the cabinets. I even had a little fit because the sun was going down and I wanted to take a walk outside before we had finished in the kitchen. I sometimes start to break down because I can see it all so clearly in front of me--the things I am doing, the things I have done, and the things I want to do--and I want to put them all in a sack and call dibs.
"You don't really want to take a walk and then have to deal with the rest of this, do you?" she asked.
And, of course, she was right. We finished cleaning the floor, took a walk, came home, and relaxed. We cooked dinner together, made a fire in the hearth, and watched a few hours of TV curled up close on the couch.
But today is a new day, just as tomorrow will be. I have a plan to have the cellar cleaned out of unusable items by the time it gets too cold to do it without a hat and gloves--or, about a month. That will mark a year and a few days since I moved into this amazing place. The cellar was empty then, save for a few stray leftovers from the previous owners. And I'm not going to abuse the privilege of space.
And that is exactly what I feel space is: a privilege.
My life's purpose is to create.
My mind makes my living.
My possessions color my surroundings.
My surroundings color my thoughts.
If my surroundings are cluttered and strewn with redundancies, then so will be my thoughts.
And just like I had to clear out the clutter in my mind from my twenty odd years of self-abuse--scraping, scrubbing, scouring, and shoveling--to get to the point where I could see new corners, empty drawers, and the natural grain of the floors that graciously hold my frame up day after day after day, I can now do the same for the place I call home.
All I can see is all I can see. It doesn't get much simpler than that. Unless, of course, I have a bunch of junk in my way.
Thanks for reading,