“You can’t take it with you”; we’ve heard this many times. These words are so old they fly past with little power, just a small shove to sort and toss a little more and try again to get organized.
At age 72, I suddenly realize – THESE WORDS ARE TRUE! I’m realizing that I’m now somewhere on my finish line; maybe it’s still a long way off, or not. But I’m peering down a path where I can see it in the mist – the cliff’s edge! And I REALLY, TRULY, CANNOT TAKE ANYTHING WITH ME OVER THE EDGE!
NOTHING! Not even one outfit of clothes!! Not even my body itself!
Now I see more clearly. The only thing I’ll be able to bring with me with is:
1) Anything I’ve learned,
2) Any growth in my personhood, like, power from inside myself,
3) All my memories: loves, hates, mistakes, successes, joys, heartbreaks; disappointments and
4) the people who live in my heart will be there still, forever.
This is what I can carry with me when I drop my body and return to being pure consciousness.
This certainly makes it easier to sort and toss! All I have to do now is check with those who I’ll (probably) have to leave behind about what THEY WANT of all the “precious” junk I’ve accumulated.
They have their own junk; excuse me, “treasures/mementos” , to stash and enjoy again in their later years. How many of my treasures are treasures to them? Would they even know the people I think of when I pick up this little chotcky or that? Even if I write on each object what it is, it won’t carry for them the heart-touch it carries for me. And they will have all my boxes to stash away somewhere and move from place to place.
How many belongings of my parents’, grandparents’, great grandparents’ have I chosen to keep, or been able to keep? I do have a very few precious things that belonged to one great-grandparent and these I treasure. A black friend was surprised when I brought something out of my great-grandmother’s: he has nothing from his ancestors at all. But most of us don’t even know the names of our great grandparents; not even their names endure over time! At some point, all traces of us disappear from the earth!
I do have a few stories that have been past to me. What I would treasure most would be traces of the thoughts of my ancestors: any writings, journals, letters, precious books make me feel like they were real people and give me clues about their struggles and strengths, what they learned and tried to do while they here before me. I hope I can leave as much as possible of these kinds of treasures from my life to endure for as long as they’re helpful to those who follow me.
But what to do with my many, many “things” which probably no one else wants to hang onto indefinitely? I first check with my progeny about any possible “family treasures.” Failing that test, I take my treasures and some I bury in the back yard, some I burn in the fireplace, doing all with proper last respect for whomever or whatever they symbolize to me.
And then I feel lighter.
Of course, if there’s any useful value left for others, I give them to my favorite resale shop. Letters from my old friends I give to their children. Pictures – some I toss and others I mark; digital pictures I’m developing and sending to those who are in them. Printed pictures endure; digital pictures seem to float off into folders on a computer that become overloaded and unmarked and get lost in cyberspace.
This is a unloading is a strange process. But even should I live a long life yet, being able to live in smaller quarters will lighten my burdens, too. In Hinduism, the third stage of life is called something like “the forest dweller”, when one goes off to ponder and become wise and live with neither responsibilities nor many needs. I think women have not traditionally done this as we never stop feeling responsible and caring toward family and friends, but we too, move toward simple living and gleaning some wisdom from our lives. My friend Joyce told about the brother of her Indian friend, Maya. He was giving away everything to move to the United States. He brought nothing but one suitcase with him and everyone thought it strange. While traveling here to his destination, he was caught in a train accident and his life was finished! It seemed to his family that he had known this was coming.
For me I don’t feel that my end is close, but I simply know I own way too much and I can’t just junk it without looking at each thing once more, enjoying it as a treasure of my living, and then remembering that I’m responsible to clean up after myself. I’ve spent many years of my life cleaning up after other loved one’s who died unexpectedly; I don’t want to leave a burden for my loved ones while they’re trying to live their own lives.
Item by item I am lightening my load. Trying not to add much, subtracting more. If there’s anything I have that my friends might want, I invite them to speak up! I’m happy to find a new home for all the treasures of my interesting life, which has been so full of surprises and riches. I must empty my trunks…