Moving is fundamentally about deciding which material items stay and which go. Some of my decisions in this regard echo Marie Kondo’s joyful approach to “tidying up” in the sense that I actively engage in a dialogue about what my stuff means to me. Such discussions do not involve the items easily tossed into the “donations”, “no”, or “garbage” piles. Nor are these materialistic monologues about the things I have decided I cannot live without, literally. These narratives circle around the objects, clothes, papers, jewellery, books, and decorative items I’m on the fence about.
The betwixt and between things are often from the past, which is not something fixed or over. The past is a moving force that constitutes the generative DNA of the now.
The more we learn about ourselves the more we can re-read yesterday’s cards and see new things in the tea leaves. That is one of the gifts of healing. We won’t always forgive everything that has happened, but we can see deeper into the eye of time – that wild friend of the cosmos. When we do this, we are dancing with the universe in ways that enable us to lead our destiny.
For a long time, the many pains I suffered caused me to rewrite my past. There were no happy memories, no gentle loving moments, only sadness and shouldering other people’s issues. Even though it wasn’t true, part of me felt like I needed to do that to the past in order to own the present. Some of this is linked with our rather binary cellular design, which is intended to protect us from danger and encourage us to trust our instinct. Flight OR Fight. Yet, we live most of our waking time in the land of the grey, which makes complex experiences and our orientation to time itself hard to navigate sometimes.
While unpacking, I found a bunch of photos that spanned my most early days until the 1990s. I ran my fingers along the curved, thick edges and marvelled at the people, bad and cute haircuts, places, and feelings that surfaced as I went through the stack repeatedly. I was happy to not just see the smiling faces, including mine, but to register that that little girl was me. She is me. There was much good in those early days, which I was allowing to register. It was like taking that puzzle piece I had been carrying in my purse for years and attaching it to the increasingly complete jigsaw that is my life. It felt really good.
Yesterday, I unpacked the final two boxes. They were layered leftovers from other containers and I dreaded organizing them. It actually took very little time to “yay” or “nay” the contents, until a black dress coat interrupted the flow of decision-making.
My mom bought it many moons ago but can no longer wear it. Instead of giving it away, which she couldn’t bring herself to do because of how expensive it was (which she has told me countless times over the years), she insisted I have it. I have never worn it and even when she was a size ¾, she barely wore it.
This coat is a symbol of my mother’s struggle for her own body, her own happiness, her own self. I don’t think she was happy when she bought it, but it was a mark of achievement, however fleeting. The past is a powerful place for her, full of both turmoil and freedom. She has done a tremendous amount of work to leave many of the harmful bits a little further away, which I’m thankful for.
I continue to carry her coat from place to place, like a hallowed inheritance. I’m still figuring out what it means to me, then and now.