October 5th, 2009:
As the apartment empties, my urgency to complete the effort relaxes. The lessons from this part of my illness have been rich and surprising. They include:
It was as much fun for me to give away my things as it was to collect them. Once it became clear that my final task was to find new homes for my treasures, I became unattached to living with them. Centripetal became centrifugal. I thanked all my things for the gift of their energy in my home by searching to find their next place in the world.
I am most adept at dealing with one thing at a time. I've developed my concentration skills by focusing on one event, one conversation, one thought at a time. This last Saturday was the busiest give away day to date. At one point, I had two new people coming in the door, one load going out the door, books being loaded in the living room, three phone calls in under two minutes, two people asking for more tape and bubble wrap, etc. I was totally overwhelmed and confused. In response, I became testy and abrupt. My goal was to queue all these requests into one question at a time. Didn't happen right away. Later that day, when I returned to Maitri exhausted, I knew it was from the multi-tasking, not from the loss of my objects or the dismantling of my home. That amount of churn won't happen again (at least not with moving into Maitri).
Most things I found easy to give away, but there were a few objects I didn't want to give up--yet. I've brought a couple of rugs and textiles to my new home. They're beautiful and they fit well in this room. When I die, they will move on to their next owners, but for now, I still cherish them by living with them. One of these not-ready-to-let-go objects is my stuffed animal, Best Bear. I'm going to give him to my godson Willem. When I went to Portland in early August, I planned to take Best to Willem and make the gift in person. But I wasn't ready to let go. A couple of weeks ago when Kathy Clarke drove up to Portland, I assumed that I'd put Best Bear in her car. Nope. Couldn't do it. Not ready.
Then there's another group of things--mostly my other stuffed animals--which have a different destiny. These are the oldest treasures I have. There's a Mrs. Santa Claus doll from age 3 or 4 and a wonderful stuffed monkey from the same age. I've made an agreement with them over the years that I would always take care of them. And I have. Now they are ancient and frail. Their skins are rubbed raw, seams are threadbare. Across the decades, I sometimes wondered what I'd do with them at the end of my life. Frankly, I don't want to give them away. At some very deep level, they are mine and they have aged with me. So I made the decision to take them apart carefully and release their energy back to the universe. As I opened up their seams, I told them how much I loved them and how much I felt their love and companionship across the years. Carefully, I put their stuffing in a shopping bag, then their empty clothes and fur. Having separated them I put the shopping bags into recycling and felt their love flying through the sky. It was the first time I can remember doing this with an object. For sure, I've written vows or promises onto pieces of paper and released them in flames for purification ceremonies. But the dismantling of my oldest toys was a new experience. I realized how much love had bonded us. I wanted them to be free again. I couldn't just throw them away. There had to be thanks and intention. And there was.