Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Letting Go

My wife thinks I am a pack rat. I prefer to think of myself as a "collector". I am home today attempting to disseminate the contents of a closet that no longer exists. My brother in law and his son tore it down yesterday as part of the renovation of my music room. The idea of "letting go" is a basic and primary concept in the spiritual life. My friend and former teacher, Fr. Richard Rohr, did a series of lectures entitled "The Spirituality of Subtraction". I am certainly at a time in my life when I need to let go of more and gather less. Much of what I have gathered in life has little material value with the possible exception of my books and music collection. I hate to throw away good stuff and I believe in the idea that one man's junk is another man's treasure. I also have the mindset of a tree hugging, granola eating, Birkenstock wearing hippie who thinks everything should be recycled. Another part of me is a student of history while a different part is a sentimental old fool who attaches lots of meaning to small things like trinkets and "knick knacks". It's probably safe to say that all of my personal possessions have some kind of meaning or memory attached to them. I also believe that all of my personal possessions paint a portrait of who I am as a person. My "stuff" is my life. Having said all of this, letting go is painful for me. However, most liberation requires some pain. When I am able to let go, I feel a great peace and a new sense of lightness in my life. As I sit here in my home office and I look around, I see a lifetime of memories. There is a story behind everything. Occasionally I have the sober realization that someday all of my things will belong to someone else, be pitched in the garbage, or taken to the Goodwill. Thank God I will be dead when this happens! If I am not dead, it will kill me. While I am still alive, however, I will continue to seek the simplicity one finds in Zen Gardens such as the one pictured above. It's probably going to take the rest of my life to get there.

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