Yesterday in my state of being unable to focus and being exasperated by my emotions, I decided to get in the car and get rid of a few personal things.
One of the things I do, as mentioned in my other ramblings, is I try to create order amidst the chaos. I sort things, pack things, order things. I find it meditative, and in my mind, it helps me to create some order to my thoughts. This ritualistic packing and ordering of banal objects somehow makes my internal messiness a bit cleaner inside, even if just for that moment.
In the past ten years I have moved so many times. I’ve had an unspoken agreement with my mother in this past decade that I would leave some of my stuff at her house, so each of my nomadic relocations would be less admin for me. What I didn’t realise is how much ‘stuff’ was actually with her. Stored in her double garage, packed neatly away in large plastic containers, stacked in beautiful columns all the way to the ceiling.
You can imagine for someone like me that there was a sense of satisfaction in the orderly rows and neatly stacked containers, it was sufficient to remain just as it was. But it wasn’t. The thing is, I could no longer remember what was in them, and if I couldn’t remember what was in them, did I need what was contained in them?
I knew there was stuff from when I got divorced from my then wife, and emerged from the proverbial ‘closet’ ten years back. The details of the stuff, I couldn’t remember. So, I decided for the past two weekends to open the lids of these aged containers and go deep into the rabbit hole of discovering what lay inside.
So many books, financial documents and files from my previous design and marketing agency, toys from when I was a child, wedding photos, letters, papers, so much art and sketches that I had created over the years and old university essays and more and more books.
I started sorting the books according to subject, genre, size, whatever meditative, ritualistic ordering process that worked for me. Picking each one up out of the container, flipping through them, and remembering why I had bought each one and why it was of significance to me at the time, all those years ago, and then placing them where they needed to go within my ordering system.
These books had at the occasion provided me with so much pleasure. Endless amounts of time that had been spent reading and getting lost in the stories and pictures.
The reality for this moment in my life, is that I need to move on and let go of a lot of ‘stuff’; material, emotional and psychological, and the books are just one tiny material part of ‘stuff’ that needs to go. After sorting the books and acknowledging their past joy, I started loading their stories into my car. It was time for their content to be shared with others, and for me, to let some of my ‘stuff’ go.
I had discovered a few days ago in my re-familiarising of the ‘burbs’, a lovely bookstore called ‘Mickey’s New and Used Books’. So, yesterday, when feeling quite shitty, I drove my overloaded self and car to Mickey.
I arrived at his charming store (the beautifully organized shelves greatly appealed to me), and said timidly to Mickey, “I have some books in my car, if you would like to have them for your store. They all in great condition. There is a wide variety of genres and there must be about two hundred books. Would you like to take a look at them?”
Mickey’s face showed some delight. He curiously ventured from behind the counter, helped me open the boot and doors of my car, and when seeing all the books held his hands together and appreciatively said, “Thank-you”.
We unloaded the car and Mickey started unpacking the books in one corner of the store to sort through later. Whilst bending down and stacking the books he said, “In this current time, no one wants to let go or give anything anymore, understandably. So, thank you for this, and thank you for paying it forward. Bless you.”
I didn’t at that moment see me as ‘paying anything forward’. I was just feeling a little unburdened by letting some ‘stuff’ go. Later on, whilst walking with my youngest daughter around the dam, I narrated the day’s earlier moment that I had with Mickey and realised that in a way I had ‘payed it forward’. I was giving without any expectation, something to someone, who would benefit in some small way by my actions. I then, whilst sharing with my daughter felt good about myself for doing it and realised I was also sharing a story with her that may provide value to her someday.
As I meander in my messy recovery of heartbreak, rediscovery of self and getting back to my true nature, I acknowledge that my actions yesterday, admittedly only after reflection, made someone else feel good, which in turn made me feel good. So, what is stopping me doing this everyday? Nothing! So, that’s what I’m going to do. Even, if it’s a simple message or acknowledgement to someone to thank them for a kind word or selfless action they have provided me without any expectation, just done with compassion and kindness. I will pay it forward.
I will start by thanking Mickey for the kind words and awakening.
Be kind to yourself. I made my bed today!
I found this wonderful TEDxStanleyPark video on Youtube the other day. It’s about the psychology of giving. It’s worth a watch if you can spare 15 minutes. Titled, “How to be Happy Every Day: It Will change the World, by Jacqueline Way.