Friday, July 17, 2009

Blame it on the Stuff

[image: Jizo in the little Zen garden, last fall]
I am cleaning out books, again. What can this book do for me? I ask each one. Some I will never again read, but they emanate memories. Sometimes the book is the only tangible thing I have left of someone I love, the only "stuff." I'm putting books like this together in a corner where they will emanate love, perhaps. I know that when I am gone, they will mean nothing to my daughter, and will probably end up in a huge tag sale.

My friend thinks about selling her house and buying a little travel trailer and wandering the country. I fantasize about living in a 10 x 12 room. This room would be spare, with polished hardwood floors like a Zen temple. I see it as having my computer, of course (but fewer wires), two or three books I'm reading presently, clean windows. If it has a little kitchen area with a sink and small frig, there is only what I need. Not cupboards full of stuff I never use.

But wait - does that mean I leave behind the pig cookie cutter? If I didn't run across it once in a while, I'd forget the party we threw to make Pigs Across the World, and how Don enjoyed slathering the pig cookies with pink icing. Well, it's small; I could fit it in that imaginary room, I think.

Thus we love our stuff, some of it anyway, as we love the people in our life, but we also feel these items complicate our lives. I wonder how true that is. I think we when imagine relinquishing all stuff, we are imagining the freedom of enlightenment. For my friend, the freedom of action in that spaciousness is emphasized. For me, the stillness. For both of us, the simplicity. We think if we had no stuff, we would be at peace. I'm not sure that's true, either.

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