Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Dharma of Moving House

Recycling is good, right? I mean I have posted these little Buddha boxes before, so technically I am recycling my art again. But you've seen that before in this neck of the woods. If this were a blue box, it would be full.

As I get ready to move I am cleaning my studio, ruthlessly going through things. Studio = chaos central right now, as if some foolish person (that would be me) picked every bin and tub and box up and let it go overhead. There are random bits of art shrapnel everywhere, a mini materials explosion has clearly taken place. I amuse myself by reading little bits of paper I have cut out:"show us how you did it with snapshots" reads one from vintage magazine, "Make a poster that shows how to protect your heart." says a cut out from a 50's school health book.

There is an edginess, an uncomfortableness to this process of purging. Sometimes I loose my way in the sorting and feel overwhelmed. I wander, I pace, I waste time. A little trip for a cup of tea or a walk make for skillful means to help me regain my composure. Sometimes I just work past the edginess and come out the other side, like a gopher with a front door and a back entry. It's like all of practice really, watching what we do and working with it honestly.

But it is all good, this purging and cleaning. Moving house has lots of good Dharma in it. I am practicing letting go on a very concrete level, letting go of gathered stuff, the oh-I'll-use-that-someday-stuff. Do we try to make ourselves feel more secure and solid by surrounding ourselves with things? Do we create our selves by the stuff we gather? Your stuff is different than my stuff, right?

So right now I am divesting myself of a lot of things. My mantra has become "keep only what you love or use on a daily basis". It is a good exercise. Sometimes I put things in the "let it go" box only to reclaim it later. It's kind of funny to watch. In the colliding realm where the inner and outer worlds are connected this purging of stuff feels like a directed effort to lighten up, to blur the edges of the self.

So closet and cupboard cleaning are the salient projects these days as March rushes towards me. There is something freeing in parting with stuff. A lot of it has accumulated in an unconscious sort of way over the 12 years we've lived here. Some of it has come my way from my mother. I ask myself how many tea cups and saucers that I never use, do I really need? (Is that a koan?) Do they make my mother seem any closer, held more dearly in my memory. I have never been particularly sentimental about stuff. Tea cups and needle point are set up in the dining room for sorting through.

In a strange way we become the custodians of our stuff. We need space and drawers to hold our stuff, houses to protect our stuff. And these days it seems we need lots of plastic tubs to put our stuff in. We have people come in and make sure our stuff is okay when we go away. We need to protect our stuff from others, especially those who have less stuff than we do.

I am also finding that all this moving stuff is an opportunity to embrace a little courage. I could retreat into fearfulness or worry (which happens sometimes) or I can lean into it and enjoy the adventure of going out and looking for a new place to live. Yesterday we took the ferry as foot passengers and met our realtor. We roamed hopefully over a number of properties. It was fun in a hopeful sort of way and we consumed large gulps of information. I could see how easy it is to get thrown off one's game as we looked at places. We had to continually refocus on what it was we really wanted. We could see the inclination to take what's not quite right in the rush to "solve the problem" of finding a place to live. Holding onto our vision but remaining open is the middle path we're aiming to travel here. And the steering on this stretch of the highway can get a little wonky.

So courage and letting go were the lessons of yesterday and today courtesy of the SOLD sign on the front lawn. If this were an episode of Sesame Street, it would be brought to you by the letter S and I'd be flapping about like Big Bird, but the whole process hasn't made me quite that crazy yet.


  1. image of you as Big Bird... well... it would be a graceful BB, eh?

    We were amazed to learn we could "live" in a two-bdroom condo for two weeks without all our "bankies". Sometimes I think the only way to move out of this farm house (has it been 27 years already!)is to just walk out. Or hire my friend who "moves" people for a living!

    I feel your struggle & admit I'm useless at this sort of thing. I still can't decide what to do with the very first rocking chair I bought 35 years ago! So, I shall just send lots of "discernment" energy!

    Lynette Genju