Friday, August 19, 2011


Spirituality and action: hand-in-hand.
As I pack and purge in preparation for my cross-country move, I am constantly faced with the question of "Does this thing go or stay?" Inherent in this question is an object's value, either practical or sentimental (often both). As a Taurus with heavy earth leanings, I have accumulated a lot of things in my 18 years in the Bay Area, as well as in my travels and residency elsewhere. I love remembering people and places with tangible items.

I have a jar of beach collected shells. It is a jar that used to contain delicious Chincoteague oysters (that I ate- yum!) and the shells are from that island as well, a family trip I took with my ex. It was delightful and amazing and it lives currently in my bathroom. Should it go? All the feathers from parrots that I have cared for in my business since 2004 that live in a vase in my living room- what should be done with those? Should all of my tarot decks go- including the ones that I used in the past but are no longer used?

I have encountered folks who are armchair Buddhists or spiritual dabblers making comments about "letting go of my attachments" while I ponder what should stay and what should go. And it makes me raise my eyebrows, because these folks obviously do not understand what the Buddha meant by non-attachment as a goal. Here is a website that puts it succinctly:
"[A]ccording to the Buddhist point of view, nonattachment is exactly the opposite of separation. You need two things in order to have attachment: the thing you’re attaching to, and the person who’s attaching. In nonattachment, on the other hand, there’s unity. There’s unity because there’s nothing to attach to. If you have unified with the whole universe, there’s nothing outside of you, so the notion of attachment becomes absurd. Who will attach to what?"
So non-attachment has nothing to do with letting go of material things per se. In fact, it leads me to think that keeping the sentimental is exactly what I should be doing. They are an extension of me- my memories, whether or not they are valuable to someone else.

However, I have to say that this purge (which is quite extensive: we are not taking any furniture, only books, bicycles, temple items, Rowan's things, laptops, a few knick knacks, kitchen gear, and clothes.) has been quite spiritual and cathartic. It feels as though I am clearing the way for a brand new life in my new home by purging things of the past.

I have created a lengthy project of digitizing old photos, papers, and music, so as not to move bulky items like that. I am gifting wonderful items to others that I no longer need or want in my life. I am trying to match the people to the items, so that the giving is meaningful and not simply dumping junk on them. I am donating things to charity. I am recycling. I am donating a ridiculous amount of craft items (how did I get all that stuff?) to the Unitarian Church where I teach Sunday School. In my way, I am trying to bless the place that I called home and the people that I have loved here in my soon-to-be-former home while making a gracious exit.

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