I spent the day helping a friend go through the belongings of a dear loved one who has passed. It’s tough going. One might think it’s the expensive toys, gadgets, and gizmos which you’d want to hold on to but instead, it’s the little things; sheets of paper, old license plates, CDs, notepads. Items which wouldn’t sell at a yard sale or purchased at Goodwill are of immense value, a treasure to the ones who remain.
Death is often an open wound. Scabs may form, some healing might occur, but grasping at past memories and experiences, strains and pulls apart the wound and the pain, heartbreak of loss returns. Its hard letting go. It’s difficult to say; “goodbye.” but death demands we do it again and again in many ways, on many occasions and you wonder if it will ever be the last time.
Moving on requires that one live open-handed, no clinging to earthly, temporal things, allowing the shared life of the one who is gone to be enough.
This morning I had an early appointment so fixed my breakfast to go. I like cereal but not milk so I put some bran flakes in a cup, mixed in raisins and was ready. I even put a top on the cup of cereal so I wouldn’t spill it. I hopped in the truck and was on my way. When I made it to the highway and would be going straight without turning, I popped open the tabs on my coffee cup and drank and reached down, carefully took the lid off the cereal and then lifted it up to begin munching on my homemade raisin bran. As I did I caught the top of the cup on the lip of the cover of the console between the seats. Before I knew it the cup had been knocked out of my hand, landed side ways between the seats, spilling the cereal underneath my seat. There was barely any left to eat. Sigh. So much for breakfast.
As I continued driving to my appointment the growl in my stomach was ferocious but didn’t have time to stop and grab a bite anywhere. I drank my coffee which helped and by the time I arrived at my location I had nearly forgotten the mess of the spilled cereal.
Life is about learning to let go of things we care about. It’s about dealing with and accepting that even those things which we take great care of are still, one day or moment, going to slip through our fingers. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”
The question becomes; “Can we let go when the time comes? Are we able to continue to travel the path even with grief and loss? Do we understand that losing control, our grip, on the things we treasure is part of the necessary experiences that allow us to fully be and feel alive?”
A couple of friends had a “garage sale” or “yard sale” this weekend. For one of them, it was the first one she had ever done.
As someone who’s worked in the nonprofit world for many years and who’s done many yard sales to raise funds for one cause or another, I found it hard to believe she had never participated in one before. I think that tells me more about me than it does her. I like these types of sales. Especially when you feel like you have found a treasure in the midst of what the owner thinks is disposable stuff. I have never found a lost “Mona Lisa” or “Rembrandt” but there have been some deals I came away thinking I had gotten a lot of bang for my buck.
I like these types of sales. Especially when you feel like you have found a treasure in the midst of what the owner thinks is disposable stuff. I have never found a lost “Mona Lisa” or “Rembrandt” but there have been some deals I came away thinking I had gotten a lot of bang for my buck.
The truth is most of the stuff we own is made to be disposable. I read a wisdom quote the other day; “The only thing we truly own is our actions.” In other words, it’s how we treat others which define us.
At the end of our journey, when who we are is sifted from what we have will our lives be revealed as treasure or trash?
A friend and I were discussing the wisdom proverb; “In each rain drop the universe is contained in full.”
As with most wisdom sayings, there are many interpretations but we focused on the truth that in each moment all of life is contained. When we try to grab for more it’s like grasping water, nothing is there.
We prefer a life which is predictable. Things to be, and stay, normal. However, what we are after is control. We try to make life stay much the same as it was in the past if we’ve been relatively satisfied.
We’d prefer not to dwell on the truth that life can change in an instant and never be “normal“, the same, again. We don’t like the idea of unemployment, sickness, death, other stresses, tragedies and heartache may be what the next moment holds.
We’d rather ignore this insight and live in oblivion until life ceases to grant us this illusion. This moment is ours, nothing more is promised, nothing more need be if we treasure our only possession; now.
This afternoon my wife was painting some wood for an outdoor project we’re trying to finish before it turns cold and stays that way. She had completed one side and was waiting for it to dry. She began helping me and, of course, took longer than expected. When she got back to her part of the project she discovered a bird had relieved itself on her recently white-painted board! She began looking around and said loudly; “A bird pooped on my board!” It was funny but I dared not laugh while she was looking at me. We glanced up into the trees above but no culprit was located. Finally, she went inside, dampened a paper towel, came back outside and cleaned it. Luckily, for any birds that were in the area, none dared soil her board again!
Life can be challenging. Often things we value, have put a lot of effort into, protected and cared for are spoiled by unseen and unexpected difficulties and problems. Relationships, family, friends, vocations, talents, hobbies and more are treasured by us but it doesn’t take long before the world attempts to spoil them.
When the spoiling occurs we have a few choices; look for someone or something to blame, complain and become bitter, let go of the frustration and do our best to make the best of it.
Wisdom tells us; “It only matters when one falls if they refuse to get back up again.”
Lock Up –
Earlier today, on my way to a meeting, I drove by the local recycling and refuse center to empty some trash-cans I had in the back of my truck. I did the deed and proceeded on my way to work. Arriving at work I then ran a chain through my trash-can handles and locked them to insides of the truck bed liner. I didn’t want someone to steal my garbage containers after all. As I sat in my office I began to wonder; “Who, exactly, would want my trash cans?” These dirty, stinky, scratched, dented, containers of all things nasty and disgusting, who would want them?
Wisdom teaches us that many of the things we value in this life are not treasure but trash. They don’t help us but hinder, don’t support us but weigh us down, add no value to our life. Yet, we hold on to them, protect them, refusing to let the refuse go.
I don’t want to buy new trash cans but I certainly want the desire and strength to let go, throw away, any and all things which contaminate my body, mind, and spirit.
This morning I was in a hurry! I don’t like being late. I’d rather be one hour early than one minute late to an appointment. I grabbed my keys, wallet, pen, wedding ring and phone as I rushed out the door. Shoving varying items in available pockets I opened the door to the truck and tossed my wallet onto the passenger seat with the intention of placing it in my back pocket when I arrived at my destination. However, when I pulled into a parking space my mind was elsewhere and I left my wallet in a prominent, highly visible spot on the front seat. I never even thought about it until I finished my meeting, came back out to the truck, opened the door and spied it lying there waiting to be seen by anyone and possibly stolen. “Whew!”
In life we often leave what’s important behind as we rush to and fro. There are schedules to keep, people to meet, places to go and it seems our life is lived in fast forward. It takes discipline and awareness to make sure what’s important doesn’t get left behind but is remembered and treasured.
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” -the Master