Saturday, August 28, 2010

Some Recent "Letting Go" Successes

Before I launch into a series of posts about the New Paradigm, I wanted to get this more practical entry out. In the past few weeks I've given up three more things in my life--each of which at one point or another would have been nearly unthinkable--so I wanted to share my successes.

1. I went through my boxes of personal letters and mementos and tossed/recycled almost everything. Now you have to realize I have kept every single letter anyone has ever sent me my whole life (friends/family/co-workers that is--not, say, the electric company telling me they need my payment NOW). *ahem* I had all the letters my best friend sent me when she moved away, from 1978 up until our last contact in 1992. I had letters from my next best friend, which he sent me mostly in the summers when we didn't see each other (although we lived only 5 miles apart). I had letters/pictures/postcards/currency from a strange Egyptian pen pal who seemed to be stalking me--if that's possible from another continent. I had stacks of the most beautiful love letters from my college sweetheart and one other wonderful boyfriend (both stacks lovingly tied into bundles with ribbon) and a more troublesome stack of letters from my ex-husband. I had funny notes from my college roommate and other college acquaintances. There was a great big pile of letters from my friend Di, with whom I've shared so many major life events--we were co-workers, she was in my wedding (and even came to my divorce!) and I had the extreme privilege of holding her as she gave birth to her daughter. Letters from my lifelong friend Khrystle (since age 3) and from my brother. I had birthday cards from my grandparents from when I turned one and two. You get the picture. It all went, all except the letters from my mom--and those may go someday too. For now they seem like such an important part of my family history, containing all of those trivial little things you tend to forget but which really tell amazing stories collectively.

It was wonderful going through these boxes and being reminded just how loved I have been all my life. I feel so incredibly lucky. All of those letters represent time, energy, and love that others have directed at me throughout my life. I think I've held onto those letters precisely because it's such a tangible reminder of that. But I've also come to a point where I know the place to carry all of that is in my heart. (That's a lot easier than hefting those boxes around every time I move too!)

Another box contained ridiculous things like a Girl Scout uniform, high school sports trophies and ribbons, academic awards, and report cards from kindergarten through grade 12. Those went too. Seriously, why have I been lugging this stuff around for so long?

2. This will sound trivial, but my hairdryer broke. I seem to go through those things with absurd frequency and finally I realized I just don't even need one of those darn contraptions. As you probably know, my plan is to go off-off-grid in a few years, so I won't be using electrical contraptions of any sort then. It just makes sense to start weaning myself off of them now. I always considered the hairdryer necessary because my hair is so thick and takes forever to dry, plus I have this weird thing about going out in public with wet hair (to me it's like going out in a bathrobe and slippers), AND with my body's inability to stay warm in the winter I get too chilled with wet hair. BUT in my a-ha moment I realized I simply have to make sure I only wash my hair right before I go to bed. It has all night to dry and in the winter I can huddle under as many blankets as I need to stay warm while I sleep. How simple is that! It just requires a slight shift in habits--to showering at night instead of first thing in the morning.

3. When I'm off-off-grid I will be doing my laundry by hand. My intention is to get a hand-cranked wringer, some galvanized tubs, a washboard, and a tool to agitate the water. Well, what do you know--a few weeks ago my washer broke. Since I'm renting it's really a simple matter to call the landlord and have it fixed--and I think it's a very simple problem like a bad belt or coupler--but instead for the past few weeks I've been washing my clothes by hand. And it's the oddest thing, but I find it so immensely satisfying. Now I don't enjoy the wringing part (by hand, since I don't have the wringer yet) but I find I actually look forward to doing laundry! It gets to something I've repeatedly tried to articulate (and failed miserably at)--that something vital is lost when we let machines take over. What it is I regain when I do something myself rather than relegating the task to a machine is the thing I can't find words for--but I feel it, and it's good, and I'll have to leave it at that for now.

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