Sunday, August 24, 2014

Giving It All Away (or most of it)

I love this painting. What an atmospheric room!
I've downsized from a 2 bedroom house to a room in a house because I had the bright idea to give most everything away before I pop the cork.

I do prefer the phrase "popping the cork" to the word "croaking" or even the phrase "kicking the bucket." I mean--croaking? That is not at all celebratory. And kicking the bucket has the feel of a person who is sullen about leaving and who is taking it out on the bucket.  Whereas "popping the cork" is a bit more spirited. I prefer that approach.

So I got rid of many things. My younger daughter took what appealed to her and the rest I sold, gave to friends or trucked to Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity.

The result is that my stuff is all over the place now. I see my pretty pencil holder by the phone when I visit Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies. My Chinese vase is at Linda's, beloved art prints and wine glasses at Frannie's, a turquoise pitcher at Barbara and Renato's and...well you get the idea. My stuff has been shared.

It felt exhilarating to do that giveaway. I think it's good practice for the moment when I will have to let everything go.  I've lightened my load quite a bit. Okay, I do have some boxes stored in the garage of a friend's house. I kept a small Tibetan rug, some books, objects that I use in meditation and prayer. Pots, a futon, linens.  It's a lot less than I've had for years, but it is still a collection of stuff.  Let's face it, one needs some to make daily life work comfortably.

I still am planning to head to Mexico this winter, after the sale of my flower cottage is completed, which it should be very soon. Meanwhile I am living with various friends until the end of October.

Currently, I am living with Linda. Her place is near an historic cemetery.  I often walk there, contemplating the state of the world, the state of my  heart and the transitory nature of life.  The state of my heart is generally salubrious. I feel good. But the subject of popping the cork is never far away. Friends are becoming ill, and some have died. We are stunned and saddened at the loss of them.

During a recent visit to San Francisco  one of my dear friends and I were sitting at the table eating some dinner. It was a beautiful summer evening. We're both Buddhists and Buddhists have no qualms about talking about death. Our conversation went like this:

When I walk in the Eastwood Cemetery, I muse about human life--how brief it is, how challenging, and what opportunities it presents.
"I don't know if I will be alive in 10 years," I said to her and she replied, "I'm pretty sure I will not be." From there we both acknowledged how strange and inevitable it was to confront the truth of our mortality.  I know that  I am somewhere towards the end and that gives everything an edge. 

P.S. I read a wonderful book recently by Anyen Rinpoche called Dying with Confidence. It's a guide to preparing for death from the Tibetan Buddhist perspective. I recommend it.

To change the subject ever so slightly-- moving the veil from one side to the other-- how about the topic of living with confidence? It seems easier with age. I feel a lot more confident in my 70s than I did in my 30s or 40s or 50s. I've already digested a great deal of experience and some things have lost their glamour. Am I jaded, world weary, or it is just because I've been around the block quite a few times? Yes. And my varied life experience makes me appreciate the spiritual essence of human life even more.

It's a paradoxical business, aging. As the body begins to dismantle itself in one way or another, the spiritual aspects of being emerge more fully.

Most days I think, "If only I were more like the Dalai Lama."
Now there's an elder worth emulating.

Oh, that's it for today. If I keep on writing, I will just get preachy and that is so tedious. How about this: by the time one is older, one's character is fully developed, or one is a character--or both.

The sacred and profane
danced in the rain
and there were times when
they looked quite the same!

How's your end of summer? It was delightful here today. Delightful.

1 comment:

  1. I never expected to live past 30. I am not sure from where that came but I even talked to my husband about the feeling I had had. When I lived past it, I quit guessing about what age it all might end on earth for me. When I got to 60, I thought from now on, it's all for me. I can do what I like as I have done all I felt I should. Now at almost 71, I don't think much about how much longer or not. In my family people have died at all different ages which made me never feel it was guaranteed that I would have even a tomorrow. That wasn't with depression or feeling morbid but just the reality. I do make plans but never assume it'll happen. Today, none of my thinking comes from any religion as I've gone through religious periods in my life and now I am kind of down on them all as each has an agenda but not one I share. I know religions offer comfort for many people though. People like me, who are 'areligious,' are in the minority pretty much anywhere in the world.

    And our summer here in the Coast Range has been about as perfect as a summer could be for warm days and cool nights. We could do with another good rain to cut fire danger but it really has been a delightful summer.