Thursday, June 29, 2006
My Plague Years
I was out and about today and observed this solitary pigeon on the window ledge of one of the older downtown buildings. I had been doing a lot of thinking earlier in the week and this pigeon seemed to pretty much sum up how I've been feeling lately - out on a ledge overlooking if not a long drop, certainly a great expanse stretching out before me.
Between thoughts about my workplace, changes in Don's work, the defeat I have felt regarding my weight, and the feeling of being overwhelmed by material stuff, I began to see that there was a connection through much of this. I now see it as the weight of circumstances and my path to re-invention. Ghandi said, "My life is my message." When I look at the chaos of my workspace and the excess that has attached itself to my body and the excess of possessions, I see the pattern rising up and staring at me like a laughing, manical clown. If my life is my message then I have serious housecleaning to do. I must declutter, focus on the internal process that keeps me so disordered, and with the discoveries, translate the actions into change.
I've been asking God for a long time to show me what He means for me to be doing to help others. Then Francine came to visit again this week. As we tore through dresser drawers and closets, madly decluttering, tossing, and shipping off to Good Will, I finally started to get it. How could I ever make my life my message if I kept myself buried under excess weight, excess possessions, and a growing mountain of "hope to do" projects? No wonder I've read so many books. It was easier to run away than to meet the challenges head on. Somewhere between Mother Teresa who gave so richly, one life at a time, and Bill Gates who gives so richly on a macro level, there must be a spot for me. I won't be able to see it until the mountains of "stuff" are removed from my life.
This week was a good start. I had 16 drawers packed with stuff and by the time we were finished trawling through it all, I had emptied 8 drawers and lightened the load in the rest. My closet has been reduced by HALF. I had clothes in there I wore 40!!! years ago. What a joy to open my closet and see space. We re-arranged the bedroom and now I have my own private sitting spot. I promised myself two weeks ago that I would not eat anything white - no potatoes, no processed rice, no pasta, no white processed bread. I've lost five pounds.
But perhaps the best thing that happened this week was discovering the connection the weight of all these circumstances had with my inability to produce my art on a regular basis. I am the keeper of family pictures going back to the late 19th century. Most of these picture are in storage boxes and bags and aren't in much order. Many of them are unidentified and therefore can't be put in any sort of context with family members. And since my mother can't speak anymore, any hope of identifying these people died three years ago. But now the pictures have all been moved to one place and I have determined that the only way to move forward in a meaningful way, is to get the pictures in albums. This will also mean getting rid of any images that, with the passage of time, have become anonymous shadows. Finally this barrier will be gone.
Carl Rogers said (or maybe it was Maslow) All I need is someone to love, meaningful work, and hope for the future. I have all of that and more. Family and friends equals love, I have meaningful work to do on my body, my home and that mountain of pictures. And with this I have hope that in the future I will hear more clearly what I can do for others because clearly, God wants me to take care of myself right now.
Posted by Annie Jeffries at 8:56 PM