_ This week, my boyfriend and I moved from Menlo Park to San Francisco. And man, what a move it is! Here are some of the things floating around my head.
Moving. Need I say more? I bet your shoulders are already creeping up to your ears, your chest tightening as you recall your own ordeals of lugging an oddly proportioned, so-comfortable-to-sit-in but so-uncomfortable-to-lift chair up a narrow flight of stairs, flanked by boxes. Moving is hectic, stressful thing that not only tends to coincide with big life decisions, but also tends to stimulate them. After all, what could be more revealing than sorting through your own stuff every single bit of it, item by item? It’s a lot like therapy, really. The process starts off with surface things. The small-talk of packing. Your jewelry, your coats, pictures on the wall, those things you store in plain sight. The pretty things, often those you treasure. The things you let new friends see when they come over for dinner.
Then, if you keep going, you get a little more into the nitty gritty. The books go next. You ask yourself, should I keep the text books? And, also, is Eat Pray Love worth storing on the shelf? Or should you free up that spot for something more literary? By now the pots and the pans are going in too, so are the bath towels, the electronics, the rest of your clothes. The stuffed animal someone won you at a carnival– does it have sentimental value? You ask yourself as you stuff it begrudgingly in the “new house” box, perhaps wishing you could toss it in the Goodwill pile instead.
Of course, it doesn’t really get interesting until the next phase. In this phase, most people are typically de-hydrated, sleep deprived, and overwhelmed by a desire to become a Jain monk, shave their heads and renounce all worldly possessions. In therapy, this is when you start to cry. And therein lies the beauty. Because within the gummy, dust ball-covered interior of this hellish phase is a time of serious possibility to see your life as it is. This is when you get to the back of your closet and find whatever you’ve been too afraid to throw away, even though it’s been in a plastic bag, unused since you moved the last time. This is the time when you look in your fridge and see, from a bird’s eye view for a change, what you put in your body. Is it fresh? Moldy? Artificial? Would you feed it to someone else? This is when you have become so tired of stuff, of your own junk, that you’re at your most likely to throw away things you never actually needed in the first place. In the midst of so much stuff, stuff that has become a part of your life, stuff that you have spilled coffee on, or crumpled, or cherished, or hidden from sight, you just might get a glimpse of who you are when you’re not looking.
Like therapy, moving is expensive, time consuming, and often painful. But if you can harness your outside reality to learn about your inside reality, it just might free you up to let go, make space, re-create and take yourself where you want to go– in stuff, body and mind.