Friday, May 24, 2013

Caution! Road Work Ahead!

The road to minimalist living is filled with potholes, detours, traffic jams, missing directional signs and more obstacles than you could ever imagine.  I am on that road now and I can report with first hand knowledge that it requires precise navigation and nerves of steel.

You have to be absolutely certain that the minimalist destination is where you want to be headed. But that is the funny thing about life - is anything really absolute? In my experience, no. It is however one of those roads, that once you start heading down it, U-turns are difficult and even if you do make one successfully, there is no guarantee that turning back will get you where you want to go either.  So, I am forging ahead and slowly but surely discarding everything I have accumulated over the course of my life on this planet.  

There is a dude who has reduced his life to 100 things.  I don't know that I will achieve that, but compared to what I once owned, it will seem like even less.  The furniture is a tough one for  me, especially any pieces I have purchased in the last couple of years that have been barely used and still give me that "new stuff visual joy hit".  I keep telling myself it can all be replaced again if necessary, but the chances of that are slim.  My next permanent space will likely be a whole new look and none of it would really work anyway.  

The clothing is proving less angst-ridden than I had anticipated.  I tend to grow bored with clothing within a season or two anyway with the odd exception, so between gifting it to friends and consigning the more expensive pieces, by Monday I hope to have reduced it to 3 suitcases. A lofty goal at that, but I will store some business clothing and excess coats and party dresses and things I won't be wearing.  If  I ever need them again, I know where to find them.

So just as I was moving down the road managing to navigate the bumps fairly well, I hit a bloody big road block last night that really stopped me in my tracks. I had been collecting boxes to prepare for this one.  I knew it was up ahead, but I had no idea the impact it would have on me. It was time to empty the bookshelves. I had already reduced their numbers when I moved out of my house two years ago.  At that time, I only kept the books I really loved and books that I tend to reference.  As I looked at each spine, a decision had to me made. Garage sale, pass along to mother or daughter or friend, bring along or store. It felt like bits of me. Bits of my history. I have always loved being surrounded by them. Getting rid of them was like casting off my identity of who I was, who I am now and the ones I still had not gotten around to reading...who I might become.  

I felt a panic rising in me. I like my books. I don't want to get rid of them.  There must be a way I can take them with me. I know I can do the e-book thing, but it's not the same.  That is not visual. I like the look of books on a shelf or in a case or stacked up next to the bed. If ever I am bored or lonely or sad or depressed, there is always a book that can come to my rescue.  I was parting with  my life lines - it felt that wretched. I was weepy, angry, confused. I sorted through them in a sort of Neptunian fog. The room lighting was poor since I sold off 2 of my lamps and I was struggling with seeing the labels on the sea of boxes surrounding me. 

There were some that had had such a major impact on my life that there was no way they were going anywhere but into the "store" box. My first hard-cover book purchase, still with me to this day, The Prophet by Kahil Gabran.  I bought it in London, Ontario when I was 18 at an independent little bookshop there.  Looking back, it was likely one of the first steps I took on my spiritual journey.  A spiritual journey that I have been on my entire life. One that I will likely always be on since it's not likely I will be any more successful than the next guy at figuring it "all" out.  My collection of Rilke poetry.  Nope, that was not going to any garage sale and being sold off for a quarter. Nor my Rumi collections. Or A Fine Balance, or Eat Pray Love, signed books.  Any books that I knew were stained with my own tears - essentially that became the criteria.  James Hollis, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer.  These guys have been in the trenches with me.  How could I callously toss them into a box with Golf tips for Women? No way. They deserved a better fate than that. So I reduced the most meaningful volumes into 2 boxes. The "Deb KEEP" boxes, where they will sit in a basement for an undetermined period of time until they are one day resurrected from the darkness.

This morning, that road block behind me, fresh with a restorative night's rest, I will start my engine again and put her in gear and see what today will bring. If I had to guess, I would say I am only about one third of the way down this road.  The trick is to keep moving forward, rearview glimpses to a minimum, crank up the tunes, put a good coffee in the cupholder...and drive. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Not Quite Home

Lonely Planet, Andalucia lays on the coffee table, 3 half unpacked suitcases sit on the bedroom floor, 2 bags of assorted souvenirs rest on the dusty unused treadmill. The windows of the apartment remain open despite the cool air and rain tonight airing out the space that was uninhabited the last three weeks. Jet lag grips us still just as habitual holas and gracias roll off our tongues from time to time even though there is no longer a need to communicate in Spanish; remnants of our brief immersion in another country.  Transition days.  The space in between.

In a few more days, home will feel like home again, but for now the lingering images and voices and scenes will drift in and out of our minds.  The sudden memory of a moment or a vista still fresh and poignant prolong the journey a little longer.  I am overwhelmed with ideas for blogs.  Travel always provides me with so much fodder and yet I am not ready.  I am greedy.  Sharing might diminish the memories somehow.  I think I will hang onto it all a bit longer, let it ferment and brew for a time before I splash it out on paper. 

The details of picking up the day to day routines once home seem to steal a bit away as well.  I want to ease back in gradually. Not all at once.  Few appointments. Minimal calls. Next week will be soon enough. 

Plans have already begun for the second leg of the "gap year".  That is entirely enough "busy" for now.  That, and working off the Reubenesque figure I acquired during the first leg! Best we did come home before it became more like a Modigliani. I think I was only about one croissant short of that!

Buenos noches for now.