eThoughts : January 1, 2012: Clutter, Part I

There she was, coming in like she owned the world. Beautiful, tall, lean, shapely, stately, poised, sensual and sensuous. She commanded—not demanded—attention. She was why the word “breathtaking” came about. I wondered what would take her breath away. And then I knew—and that was when she noticed.

As we all know, the New Year is a good time for some review, some recapitulation, and a good time to toss out what is not useful or necessary—including our cognitive, emotional, and spiritual clutter as well. We’ve certainly got a heap of it, it seems to me—and I think it is all of that clutter that shapes our unhappiness.

The Past

What a warehouse full of inventory. Oddly, or not, that inventory does a lot of shape-shifting over time. Whenever we catalog it, it changes. And it should, as it is not the inventory per se that is important, but how we see it. It’s a lot of work having all of that past. It’s a lot of work changing it so it continues to be useful. One could spend their entire life gathering, inventorying, and reinventing the past. And one might actually learn something important in such a lifetime of exercise—like what difference does the past make?

That sounds a bit cruel, eh? I mean all those ancestors, all that dying. And what of our immediate life? Our parents, our friends, our accomplishments or lack thereof, all dangling like hardware from our protective coat. There we go, here we go, jangling like Charles Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Past. It’s a disturbance.

I guess we need it, like an alarm clock to wake us up. What is the saying—if we don’t know our history, we are doomed to repeat it? Hmmm. We know a lot and it hasn’t much help wake us up yet.

We can drop our personal and collective history. I’m not suggesting the past isn’t important, I’m suggesting that historical facts (good luck with that) are very different than historical interpretations. It looks like the latter isn’t really making us happy, just busier trying to keep up. That’s unnecessary clutter. But at least we get to learn something from hoarding our interpretive past, as in how important a sense of presence is—an uncontaminated sense of presence.

Do not misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting going through life unaware of the past, I’m suggesting a lighter inventory about the past. It is that weird step that allows us to see in front of us as we move, rather than to move and see only where we’ve been.

And so the point? Memory is not solely about the past. We simply used memory to confine ourselves, to dupe us into idolizing where we’ve been, to collect memories as though they stand testament to the veracity and efficacy of our life.

It is a New Year. Let’s try facing forward and be memory packrats no more. The past lives anyway, with or without us. So let’s try out fewer encumbrances. Let’s greet each other this year without past patterns. We might just discover what we’ve been looking for—a lightness of being and a sense of returning to where we always belonged anyway.

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