When Dan and I moved in together to qualify for my De Facto visa so I could emigrate to Australia with him, we merged a lot of things into our blended life; DVDs, books, cooking utensils, herbs and spices, booze cupboard and so on.
We both like red wine, love films, reading books and in so many aspects are like peas in a pod, but one thing that surprised us was how few DVDs we had doubled up on:
1. Long Way Down with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, travelling from London to New York
2. Pulp Fiction, no DVD collection is complete without it.
There were maybe two or three more, but after quizzing DG and looking at each other vaguely we can’t remember what they were. Anyway, when we started slotting the DVDs alphabetically (yes, yes I know) into our disc wallets, which cuts down on storage space, we were surprised at how few we had to sell on and donate to charity. I don’t think we doubled up on any books apart from Long Way Down again (I’ve mentioned about our mutual Ewan worship here before), Dan tried to curtail his book buying while in the UK, knowing he was going to have to ship them back to Oz, but I had no idea I would be leaving the country so saying goodbye to some books was hard.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love reading. I am never happier than when I have a book in my hand, preferably in a bath with no-where to go, no place to be, no plans to carry out. I will quite happily read all day, and at least once a month do, although newspapers don’t count on the weekends really. Last week, I toddled upstairs to get a book that I knew I had brought, to stare at my alphabetised (yes, yes I know) bookshelves and then remembered it was one of the multitude of books that I had to bid farewell to when we were packing our boxes to leave.
Moving on from any home is hard work, packing up things that are precious to you, sealing the boxes, hoping when you break into them again, that everything you packed has arrived in one piece. Imagine what it was like sealing 14 boxes including clothes, books, heirlooms that many people would regard as irreplaceable, then hoping that their 10,000 mile journey will return your belongings safe to you?
I’ve moved so many times in my life, I had 7 addresses in 5 years, with about 15 addresses total (I think, I’ve officially lost count now), that you just simply get used to trimming your belongings, packing them safely and hoping for the best. When you go on a long personal journey as I’ve been on for the past 6 or so years, when the biggest thing was ripped away from me, my first marriage. I know I am still seeking, still trying to find my way, some days are easier than others, with some days so hard it is all you can do to get out of bed, you eventually realise that your belongings mean nothing. You can’t take them with you when you shuffle off this mortal coil, so why do we cling to them thinking the more stuff we have, the better our lives will be?
Yes, I love my Grandmother’s utensil pot and I am grateful that it survived the trip over, but do I need it to remember her? How she taught me to make pastry, how she would play with Patrick and I for hours at the kitchen table, all of us often doubled up with the giggles, how she would patiently let me clear out her cupboards and put everything back in again ‘just so’. No. Likewise with the ornaments my Nanny gave me, again they survived the trip, but every time I iron, I think of her anyway; the smell of hot cotton and wind-dried sheets is one of the smells of my childhood. I can’t see a child blowing bubbles, and not think of her either. What I own has no bearing on my memories of people that are dear to me.
Dr Wayne Dyer, another one of my gurus, lived on an island in Hawaii for a year, studying the Tao te Ching. Before he left for his retreat, he gave away the majority of his belongings, literally taking only what he needed to read, study and interpret the 81 poems and live life as simply as he could. I wonder as I enter the 3 weeks leading up to and ending the end of 2009, with my plans to trim, reorganise and curtail my extraneous chaff, what belongings I can leave behind me. What things are tying me down, making me heavy?
Merging of minds is one thing as you welcome another person into your life, leaving things behind you is another. Knowing when cut everything back in your life to just you, is a big brave and bold step. I hope that as this year closes and the new decade begins, that I am brave enough to recognise where I was on Millenium Eve (unbearably unhappy in my life) to now, acknowledging that I am on an ever-changing journey, and that the one constant at the epicentre of it, this journey, this life, is me. Only me.