Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sacred Life Sunday: Simplicity

"I have lived long enough to learn how much there is I can really do without... He is nearest to God who needs the fewest things." -Socrates

I am in the process of clearing out a lot of "stuff" I've gathered over the past six years. Each week, I fill up the recycle can and put it out on the curb. I've had so many ads under "free stuff" on Craigslist that people are beginning to recognize them. All of this in preparation for another move early next year. I am on a waiting list for subsidized senior housing in Berkeley. When a one-bedroom apartment becomes available, I won't have a lot of notice.

Since the early 90s, I have always traveled light and for some unknown reason have never had trouble walking away from households full. The first time I did it was 1993 and the second time, I left it all behind when I had to leave the east coast suddenly. I have a very transitory relationship with "stuff". I enjoy it while I have it.. but leaving it behind doesn't bother me.

At the same time, I do have some things, some memorabilia and other objects that are meaningful to me. For some reason, I've carried around Victorian lampshades I made by hand in the late 80s through various moves. I missed them while I was in Thailand and made a few there. They are at Ajahn S's house.

I have books that mean something to me. Usually they are books that have spoken to me on such a deep level that I can't part with them because they are my "reference" books. They set my thinking straight. Other books, I am giving away. Occasionally, I will post about a book here and anyone who wants it just needs to send me an address. I'll mail it to you. First come, first serve. Being someone who reads on average of 2 books a week, this offer will not be infrequent.

There's a small box of jewelry. Beautiful pieces I've bought at pawn shops and yard sales all over this country and in other countries. It doesn't have all that much monetary value (as if I care) and they're beautiful. I can always count on a compliment when it comes to my rings.

Basically, all of this can fit into two footlockers. And one of the foot lockers is for my clothes.
All of my clothes (aside from the obvious frequently replaced things) are from Thailand. They are unique and I will be taking all of them with me. There are a few electronics, obviously, such as the computer, my tabletop electronics (radios, scanner, blah blah), cooking utensils and so on. When it comes time to go, I'll walk down the street, rent an SUV for the day and move all of this myself.

So.. what does this have to do with Sacred Life?


When we have a real sense that everything is transitory, that we need to be "in the stream" with these changes, we are able to reach the sacred. Sacred is freedom and choice. Sacred is the freedom to be at one with that which connects us all. Sacred is being open to the changes that give our lives room for the experiences we need to grow and increase meaning.

How can we do that when we are overly attached to "stuff"?

Well. At least that is how it looks from here. :)



Anvilcloud said...

This places gets kind of filled up, and I don't much love it. When something comes in, something else should go out.

flutter said...

I have learned that things are a hindrance more than a blessing and yet I am a collector.

I can, and do shed at a moment's notice though and that is so freeing.

Christine said...

i am like flutter--i collect lots of stuff. but i have several large garbage bags full of things to take to the goodwill or the clothing shelf (like a food shelf) and it makes me sick that i was holding on to these things for so long

jen said...

i feel very unattached to physical stuff. and i am so happy about that.

Mary said...

Stuff is just stuff but some of it has real meaning - like the size 6 & 8 suits I have hanging in the back of my closet. I'll never wear them again, but I love the memory of how great I looked in them :o)

After two out-of-state moves in 5 years, I've become good at tossing the crap. BUT, I have to be in the mood to say good-bye.

Kate I said...

I was in Thailand 10 years ago for 2 months and loved their beautiful and lovely culture. I was backpacking at the age of 50, and have never felt so free in my life.

Everything I needed was on my back and every morning when I woke up, I had the freedom to decide if I wanted to stay or move on and if I did, it was simply a matter of zipping up my packback and wandering down the road.

Thanks for reminding me of the simplicity and freedom that I experienced there.

Great post!

painted maypole said...

i am too attached to stuff, and often admire those who, like you, can fit it all into a car. But when I thought perhaps it all had washed away in a hurricane? it mattered not,because my family was safe. perspective.

Susanne said...

I'm struggling with attachment to things. But then I find that for the things dear to me, like making music, I do need quite a bit of it. This said I know that I could part with a lot without feeling loss. And I often marvel how I could have gone from having one quite spartan room to a whole house that's almost bursting at the seams.

Although I do de-clutter on a regular basis.

mitzh said...

I get sentimental over some stuff, but I know in my heart that there will be a time when I have to let it go...

Julie Pippert said...

After two catastrophes (plus frequent moves) I have learned to Let Go of Stuff. The current hurdle of clothes, I have jumped and am ready to purge.

Now I must convince my family...


Using My Words

heartinsanfrancisco said...

We learned in high school science that Nature abhors a vacuum. I have always believed this to be so in the spiritual realm as well.

If we want better relationships with others and with ourselves to come into our life, there has to be a vacancy. Clearing out tangible stuff often facilitates the clearing out of stuck areas in our souls that need to be vacated even more.

I have very few things that mean enough to me to take along when I have to lighten the load, and those things are nearly all repositories of experiences I have had that changed me in some important way.

The merely practical can always be replaced, but certain photographs, seashells and a few pieces of jewelry are kind of sacred to me, and there will always be a place for them where I live.

crazymumma said...

I have missed you in this week I have been 'away'. You always lighten my load somehow.

Journey Through Life said...

Sounds good to me too! I am constantly clutter clearing – not always successfully! – and sometimes things just end up in the shed rather than being given away! – however, I am always seeking to remove from my life that which is no longer a sacred or necessary part of it.
I enjoyed this post!

blooming desertpea said...

I have very few things I would be really sad if taken away from me e.g. by a natural disaster. Those are mainly all my photo albums, from childhood to my current life. Although, I am absolutely not attached to the past - in fact, I am absconding it - I am very attached to photographs. Isn't that curious?

Sober Briquette said...

I agree with this, although I have a lot of "stuff." Perhaps, no, not perhaps. I'm sure "it," and moving it all, over the past few months has contributed to my current state of mind.

I personally do not buy or hold onto a lot of things. What you wrote about the things that you do have, and the reason you have them, the meaning they serve in your life is true for me, also. One thing I cannot understand and do not know how to change about my children is their desire for so many items that mean nothing. Just endless acquisition.

My husband is a person who values convenience, and many of the things he buys are intended to make his life easier. I don't notice that it works for him, although I guess I can't say that until I try actually living a "hard" life, free of conveniences that I take for granted.

storyteller said...

Thank you for your lovely (and timely) reminder that my on-going attention to shedding my "pack rat" tendencies does point to freedom. I'm simplifying my life ... though not as quickly as I'd like. I sometimes wish I could let go of "stuph" more easily, but am content to walk this path for now. I forget who said, "Wherever you go, there you are." Maybe Jon Kabat Zinn?

I'm so glad to have discovered your site Chani and will return often.
Hugs and blessings,