Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Contemplating Loss

Summer Sky
"It is not too uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living."
Eckhart Tolle 
Three weeks ago, on a sweltering summer afternoon, the day before my sister's birthday, my brother-in-law layed down for a nap, and side stepped off this plane.

He was tired after fighting a brave fight with kidney disease for the past six years. My sister, to state the obvious, is devasted. She is left a widow. She is left with a pretty big hole in her life. She is alone for the first time in her adult life, with no children to soften the blow of his leaving. While trying to deal with the emotional loss of her husband, she is also faced with the possessions he has left behind. My brother-in-law was a lover of a good auction, and he has the stuff to prove it. But his sudden passing (because it did seem sudden, even though we knew he was sick) has left in its wake a pretty big, heartbreaking mess for my sister to negotiate.

I have written about ownership before in the context of minimalism, but my brother-in-law's passing has renewed my life mission of owning less. I honestly believe that the best thing we can all do as we age, is to divest ourselves of as many of our possessions as possible. We should change the saying from "she/he who dies with the most (fill in the blank) wins" to "she/he who dies with the least wins". I believe the best life is one lived with the fewest possessions. My brother-in-law's passing has renewed in me  a committment to move closer to minimalism, and to pay closer attention to my bucket list. Because, not to sound maudlin, none of us knows when our next nap could be our exit nap.

I am reminded over and over again - through my brother-in-law's passing as well as by friends dealing with downsizing - that possessions are prisons. Prisons that we buy, acquire, collect, and lock ourselves into a space where all of our resources go to maintain the prisons we have built. And all our time goes to working to earn the resources. What a maze of complication ownership of much is.

To clarify, I don't know if I can only own 100 things like Dave Bruno encourages (although I might give it a try) Right now it seems like that would be hard for me, I'm an artist and a writer, so 100 things would limit what I do - at least right now. I also like certain things that I continue to struggle with owning, like my books. Sewing and knitting are also passions I feed, and have to be careful that I don't acquire more materials (both fabric and yarn) that I don't have the time to work with and complete projects. Minimalism for me has been a lifestyle goal/choice that I've worked with and struggled with now for probably ten  years. Most of the time, I do pretty well keeping myself in check, but I have realized that things have gotten a little out of control lately.

However, I think that challenging myself to live with less, while trying to do more is going to be a good exercise moving forward.

On Monday, I'm starting a new series called "Minimalism Monday". I'm posting about my weekend's work downsizing, and hoping to inspire more folks to move into the direction of a life with fewer and fewer possessions. I'll keep you posted.

My brother-in-law  was so loved, by my sister, and all of us, and all his many friends. He was such a dear person, and friends and family alike miss him terribly. His swift exit should really have proved to all of us who are paying attention, that life is never guaranteed. For those paying attention, it should make us want to clean up our projects and make sure our lives are being lived and not just lives controlled by possessions and the need to maintain them.

Have a peaceful week.

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