I’m currently visiting my wonderful son, Billy, in Durham, NC. Before I left LA I had been on a juice cleanse to clean up my inner physical body. I suppose this was a good prep for my trip.
It’s been a very good visit even though we haven’t been out much. What? No visits to Duke university or their famous gardens? Naw, not this trip. Spending quality time with my adult kid has included my being present while he organizes his living space and life. Heaven knows, and probably those who know me or follow my blog, I have spent the past year and a half, sorting, storing, pitching, selling and donating possessions and organizing my new life. I guess one might assume I’m now an expert in the field, and while this might be partially correct, I am still far from my ideal.
When I first met my sweet (now dearly departed) Max, his apartment was in great disarray. It was I who attempted to help put his stuff in order. Who did I think I was? The queen of anal retentiveness? No. The mistress of organization? Not really. What was I thinking? Hmmm. Good question. Frankly, I just figured it was easier to help him sort and pitch than to do it myself. Besides. It was also not my place…It was his apartment, after all. I loved the man and hated his mess. I had to do something if only on the inside to keep me from running away.
While observing Maxie’s clutter I would further contemplate why we collect stuff. We had friends and family around us who were drowning in their belongings either financially by paying exorbitant storage fees to keep their crap safe while they avoided dealing with it or wading through stacks of expensive shoes, clothing and housewares, along with books, magazines and heaven knows what else. Max’s stuff seemed minor by comparison, but major when it came to our life together and I had to deal with it on a daily basis.
Consider how deceptive the whole disease of consumption really is. No longer the malaise of generations past when it meant any sort of human wasting disease such as tuberculosis, our current consumptive disease is one of massive consumerism, another sort of wasting disease in and of itself. We have been using up our resources both economic and environmental in order to amass what? Happiness? Hey, even the Beatles sang “Money Can’t Buy Me Love”. Didn’t we learn everything? And we wonder why we have so much debt? But again, I digress.
I have maintained that while Max and I were dating my own household was pretty organized. And. I really liked him, a lot, and figured our budding relationship was putting my emotional life further in order, so I just gave him incentives to get his possessions together… The pleasures of our company (X-rated), reminders that he could find stuff he had previously spent days searching, and a neater, cleaner living space. He had been a Rainbow vacuum cleaner salesman so he did know the benefits of a tidy home, at least in theory.
When Max would scratch his head and look befuddled whilst sorting through his junk, I’d offer encouragement in the form of a big juicy kiss (or more), trash bags and the shredder. Through our years together I learned when to back off and let him ponder the vastness of his pile o’crap and when to keep my cool when he chose to not clean up. I did my best to monitor my own possessions, shed them periodically, ie. to at least walk my talk for myself. But unfortunately for me, Max never really dealt with his penchant for collecting.
When Max passed away I was the one to sort through the many belongings he left behind (but in front of me), which was a mind boggling and daunting task – it really was huge! It was doubly hard because removing his stuff was also charged with the energy of my years of pent up frustrations about his manner of not dealing with it. I realized I had stored many of my emotions about the way Max stored his junk. He had left me with a task he was unwilling to do himself and that pissed me off, left me sad and guilty all while missing the crap out of him, the guy I loved dearly.
This week has been great, because my visit helped Billy clean up his physical stuff and encouraged me further to clear my emotional garbage bag regarding Max, and his garbage. Even more I have had the quality time, devoid of work and home distractions to spend with my son for whom I deeply care.
Resolving my conflicting emotions has been a metaphor for my understanding the urge to collect physical stuff rather than keep only what I really require. Like, how many shirts, shoes, pants, socks, underwear, DVDs, cables, books, furniture, and so much more, do I really need to make my life happy, fulfilling, and worth living.
I suppose I have become an expert in organization, just by plunging into the trash receptacle of my own feelings, figuring out what I might glean from the contents, therefore discovering ways to responsibly dispose of or compost what I no longer require. This sort of cleansing. The inner emotional one is even better than the juicing I did before I left home. I’m looking now at the physical, the energetic and emotional aspects of living in my world with a sense of ease. Life is good. And I am grateful.