June 13th, 2004
In the woods again. I sit in my favourite spot and wonder if that haze that lingers about is a storm rolling in. Yes, I think it is, the wind picks up and tosses the trees about violently. If I hear thunder I may have to retreat. I sit nestled into a little nook by the water, sheltered by the wind.
My life lately has become largely about purging. I walk around my house contemplating the things I own and questioning my attachment to them. I ask myself what things are most important to me and why. Why do I feel that I will be unsafe without them? I seem most attached to my books, journals and the artwork I have collected over the years. My friend Suzette recently asked me, “Who are you without those things?”
Yes, who am I indeed. If my journals were lost or burned, I would still be the same person, having lived the same life. Sometimes I think clinging to the words, needing to document it all is a way of trying desperately to hold onto a moment, to not let it fade away. Are we not constantly doing this by holding onto things? I read somewhere that when looking at our possessions it is important not to confuse a thing with a person. The item is not the person, nor is it an experience. As humans we have a tendency to do this, as a way of holding onto a memory, quite naturally in fact. When we mourn for someone we hold on dearly to those things that remind us of them, we find comfort in an old sweater, a dusty hat. But at what point does this hold us back from living for now?
And so as I walk through the rooms picking up various items, and asking myself “who am I without this?”. I find the answer is usually something like, “I am still the same person, minus a teapot.” For a long time I have felt that there were a certain amount of possessions one needed to function well and survive, and that once I had all of those things (house, car, furniture, etc.), I would feel completely secure and safe. Now I am starting to see that within that belief there is an inherent mistrust of my ability to deal with things in the moment, to adapt. Feeling safe must come from the inside. There is a great quote to this affect I think by Winston Churchill, something to the affect of, “I never met a man with a fence around his property that felt safer for it.” (this is from memory, don’t quote me on it.)
My experience at the boathouse showed me how little one requires to live well. This is not to say that I want to live a monastic existence. No. There is a balance. I only wish to question my relationship to my things and try to be as honest with myself as I can. Let go of the old to make way for new experiences. One only needs to take a trip to a local dump to contemplate stuff, (something I think everyone should do on a regular basis.) Yes partly to see the environmental impact, but also for the emotional one. How easy it is to become a slave to our things. How shocking it is to see bits and pieces of peoples live just sitting in a large pile. What is it all for? Does nature go through this purging process? Yes, I suppose it does, (forest fires, rotting trees, storms, dead animals).
I think it is time to be moving on, I can smell the rain coming and the wind is picking up again making small waves on the water. No time for a swim today. I have a trout waiting for my dinner and some greens. Blue dragonflies flit about. I got a grass stain on my newly washed white cotton bag.
I walk back along the path, hands outstretched, finger tips brushing and bending the tall stalks of grass as I go.
Really enjoying King-Cat comics by John Porcellino. About little everyday experiences, so beautiful and simple.