A Tough Night
I felt too much energy at 11:30 pm, but still tried to go to bed. The temperature, the light, the noise level all felt not right. Finally, some classical soft music on the hand radio helped and I drifted into a light sleep only to be awakened an hour later by discordant modern classical sounds. This time I was up. My mind was weighted down and my nose was congested. And then two violations of my recent past came to bother me.
About a year ago my father’s apartment had a mold problem and much of my deceased mom’s papers, records of her performances (she did biographical shows on certain people), her letters, photographs were ruined. To know these items were gone and to never get to see them again felt wrong.
Then that day I received a call from my dad saying that the three trunks in a storage basement near the East River, containing my papers from school, early drawings and paintings and writings, pictures of myself, models I built, a few awards, my little league jacket, early items in the apartment such as our first blankets, stuffed animals older than most people, all were ruined by water and mold from hurricane Sandy. My early past now was history. On different levels this bothered me. It was a violation of sorts, a kind of rape. I have few records of my grandparents. Personal items help one relive time with added perspective.
So I was not able to sleep. As in the story of Saul there was no peace in my mind. I recall hearing a still silent voice say something, I don’t recall what, and I let out a soul wrenching sigh of relief. Then, as I exhaled his presence inhaled and then my inhale was followed by his exhale, almost like a spiritual resuscitation. I must have been in a dark place, more than I care to imagine, to have received this emergency care. I was helped and cared for.
Then my mind wandered, and my congestion kept me up, and my destiny that night was predetermined by my eating too many fruits at the farmers market earlier in the day and some chocolate somewhat late, dousing my system with too much sugar to fill some of the
gaps I felt in the fiber of my being.
Hi Steve, just read your most recent grists online and found them very relevant for my times: I own a storage company and I and my staff and friends often have a good laugh about the 'hoarding' that goes on not only among our clients but among ourselves. People keep
things for many reasons - for records and memories; for historical reference and 'proof'; for the possibility that things will be useful in the future; for an inability to "let go." People keep and store things because they think they can not live or go on without
them. Hence the proliferation and success of storage companies.
You recently lost significant items from your past. This can be disconcerting, troubling even devastating. But I have been developing some different thoughts on this for myself. Because most of us can and do keep much more than we can need or even use, parts of our emotional systems have atrophied. If we still have an object or a photo or a momento, we don't need to develop or keep a spiritual 'memory.' We don't need to cultivate a place in the deep recesses of our soul to conjure up feelings or connections that our minds are so capable of embroidering and weaving. In a sense, by keeping and storing objects we actually diminish the spiritual value of that object.
Letting go of things is much different from losing or diminishing a memory. True, memories change over time precisely because of the human mind's capability to weave and embroider. But I think this ability is undervalued and underestimated. Keeping a physical object to help retain a memory of a thing (or even a person) can actually diminish the richness that person (or thing) brought to our lives and continues to bring. We interact and love others because we develop a spiritual and emotional connection to them. We allow them 'inside' and intermingle their emotions with ours. A realization of this can mean that no one who was ever dear to us actually ever goes away or even dies. Emotional/spiritual life never really leaves. I think this is the meaning of 'everlasting life.'
Just a thought.
Funny how there are no coincidences: about 15 minutes ago I got a call from my broker who's received a preliminary offer on this house -the one that's part of the estate. Not a spectacular one but easily countered. I told her about your blog and our discussion about
holding on to things and recounted my feelings about giving this place up in relation to what I sent to you. It's funny, I know I have to sell this place; it isn't mine, I share it with the kids (4 altogether including Rebecca), it needs a lot of work in addition to everything I've done on it and continue to do on a daily basis. So now I'm getting attached: feeding the koi, making coffee, doing the laundry; straightening everything up for the brokers to show it. I painted the deck railing, threw lots of stuff away, streamlined everything and made it my nest.
I'll sell it; but I'll feel it.
Well you will feel it. Your first comment has good thoughts. Sometimes the effort to preserve can diminish the actual memory. Your second comment witnesses the actual experience and its not so easy to be callous to "things."
My own take is that there is a pull to be the wanderer traveler with just a knapsack on our backs and there is a pull to give importance to our heritage, lineage, memories and genealogy. They don't always go together. With the latter we were influenced to disengage from
our families in favor of a more corporate culture. Lean and mean for the business machine. When that betrayed, a renewal of our family roots became important. The former can be a cleansing from earthly needs of sorts.
Part of it is class. Are the rich the only ones who get to keep memories in glass cases? Do not our families mean just as much to us and what they leave behind. In this world there is some honor in preservation. With the rich its preserving history. With the middle or less its clutter.
It's good to be light. But we are also in the world, with smells, things, feelings, emotions and stuff. It is not meant to be forever bypassed. When we pass on we will let go of everything. This is our chance, our unique chance, to experience attachment. It's a one time thing down here and "things" are part of it.
Value your thoughts and just adding to them. They all push different buttons in our brains.