Thanks to the studio remodel and just a general need to purge after last fall, I've been going through a lot of things, a lot of piles, a lot of stuffed drawers. I've let a lot of detritus detrite its way on out the door. It's good to not be owned by old stuff, don't you think? I mean, that's part of our modern condition (in these wealthy United States, anyway), is that so much stuff comes into our lives, unbidden, and we spend a fair amount of time managing that stuff. And I hate sending things to the landfill. But we need some space too, don't you think? When you are sentimental like me, or have a bit of the collecting spirit, or maybe have family members who send you a lot of their treasures to curate, it can be wonderful and fulfilling but also occasionally overwhelming. And it feels good to unattach and let go.
I've been going through old cards and, except where photos are involved, reading them over, enjoying the love they represent, and then letting them go (yes, to the trash or recycling bin). While doing this, I stumbled over a little bundle of envelopes that my friends M. and S. put together for me before that fairly-traumatic trip to Idaho a few years back, when my mom was sick. They gave the little envelopes to me as talismans, as gifts to have and open at times when I might need strength or a reminder of who I am.
That trip went very badly, of course, and I only opened one or two envelopes before fleeing back here, and then couldn't bear to open the rest when I got back because I just felt so sad about everything, and disappointed in myself. But I kept them and, this morning, opened them.
I'll post a few things from the poetry and wisdom in the envelopes here and there, because--jeez--they still fit so well, and are so wise.
So, in no particular order, I give you first these lines, that jumped out at me from a funny and beautiful poem by Tony Hoagland, called "A Color of the Sky":
Last night I dreamed of X again.
She's like a stain on my subconscious sheets.
Years ago she penetrated me
but though I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed,
I never go her out,
but now I'm glad.
What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.
What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel.
What I thought was an injustice
turned out to be a color of the sky.
Isn't that true? Oh, those sticky, difficult, dark times. Those painful experiences. To see them as middles, tunnels, colors of the sky. That takes some courage. Some growing up. Hard to do.
And, from Bronson's What Should I Do with My Life?:
"Who doesn't feel fearless at twenty-five? I wasn't afraid! I was ready to try anything! But that brazenness is usually hiding something. For the first six years out of college, my biggest fear was that the working world would push my wife and me apart. My choices were ruled by that fear, but I never would have called it a fear. I would have advertised it as one of the few things that I knew mattered to me. I would have called it self-knowledge.
You want to know where your fears are hiding? Tell me what you know about yourself. Tell me what you can't live without."
Boy. I had to read that last bit about a million times, and then finally took a breath, and couldn't look at it anymore. For me, there's no directly looking at that and getting it. That information, my friends, will be coming through via the back door. Or just through the back, the spine, the curve, as some of you have pointed out. What a divining rod that thing is turning out to be.