Thursday, April 13, 2006

Acts of Faith

Acts of Faith

We are about to move 1500 miles. Lightening up is a good idea. There will be no making a second trip to gather the items we couldn't quite fit in the first time.

We have a lot of stuff. Last time, we used U-Haul's largest truck, plus two runs with my stepfather's trailer. We've bought some additional furniture and stuff in the five years since then. Pruning is ongoing.

We trimmed a little more than ten percent of our library. We're pretty much keeping the entire rock collection. We took a few cubic feet out of the games collection. And I'm letting go of twice as much volume from my cloth stash.

The mover's video instructions suggest tossing all cleaning supplies and pantry items. Can I really do that?

I see that I've been using stuff as a safety net. The pantry represents this much margin between me and hunger. The cleaning supplies, a bank of resources to avoid squalor even when broke. More t-shirts than I can wear in a month -- that much insurance against going cold and naked. Unread magazines -- that much barrier between me and boredom -- which is what? The fear that I can't face my own thoughts without distraction?

We once went to a museum in the Welsh countryside that recreated typical homes from pre-literate, medieval, and 1650, 1750, 1850 and 1950 eras. You could see the stuff swell hugely for 1950, kitsch and radio and home decor and utensils of vast variety and color -- enough to choke on. I liked the sparsity of 1750. One table. One chair, one plate, per family member. Of course, this one bed per family arrangement needs to go. And there is a lot to be said for keeping the livestock in a separate building.

The old paradigm -- the old proverb -- 'Waste not, want not' -- dates to that time. And it still has its applications. Still, could they have imagined receiving by post, for free, enough paper each week to light each morning's fires? Would they have recoiled, shouting 'Sin!' at a catalog offering seventy-four different swimsuits? And what would they have done with a collected stack of twenty AOL discs?

Really, this stuff has to go. I need my irreplaceable time and the energy it would take to track and move all this for better things.

And so, into the trash with every frayed towel and stained t-shirt. Send the fresh, durable pantry items to the Food Bank, and let go of the past-its-use-by-date dressing mix. Toss the last half cup of flour. I can do this.

And every discard is an act of faith -- faith that I will have what I need, when I need it. Faith that I have the resources to feed myself and clothe myself and face time without props. Faith that everything will be OK.

May you find your safety in yourself rather than your possessions.