Monday, March 1, 2010

First, clean your house...

I have always been a reader. But like a lot of things in the past twenty-two months, the nature of my reading has changed too. I find myself strangely attracted to material on death, philosophy, psychology, spirituality...basically anything that will help make sense of what has happened. Yet the unanswered why remains.

In one of my readings about depression, I learnt that the first thing to do in order to reactivate your life is to clean your house. Sage advice. It took me a while to get the point but here I my house.

When we were moving from England, two burly Polish men supervised by a droll and sensitive Englishman carefully and gently packed the detritus of our lives into boxes, which were placed in crates, which were stacked in a container and driven off to be carried on a ship on the high seas. As the truck carrying our belongings drove away, I felt nothing. They were just things. We had been told we would be reunited in six weeks and where can things go?

In the interim, while living with the bare minimum in Delhi, I realized how little we really need to be comfortable. The same four clothes, washed and ironed were better than cupboards full of things we never wore, the limited number of dishes in the kitchen made life simpler, who needs more than two sets of anything? We create artificial choice by accumulating things. Things that enslave us. Things not just for the life we lead but what we imagine our life will be...

I received a call after six weeks to tell me our shipment could not be located and to please bear with the delay. I felt a strange sense of relief. All that fat we had accumulated could be shed just like the fat from my body had melted away. Frankly, I didn't really care.

They did find the shipment three weeks later. As the packed boxes arrived, we were horrified by the sheer obesity of our previous life. I walked around in the maze of cartons and wondered how to accommodate all the things. So as the men unpacked, I repacked...putting away things that did not fit my life any more. Some boxes were stored as is. Sealed, unopened. They contain bits of our combined history, accumulated with a future in mind. But that future has been altered forever, taking a different trajectory because of the change of one primary variable...

After moping for all these months, I finally found the courage to clean my house. Around the unopened boxes, behind them, under them but am still not ready to face what lies within. The depression has somewhat alleviated but the anxiety about the parts of my life still lying sealed bothers me. Someday, I believe I will be able to build up the nerve to release the boxed parts of my life and like Pandora, I may find hope at the bottom of at least one.


The definition of insanity is thinking that you need something you don't have. The mere fact that you exist right now without that which you think you need is proof that you don't need it.

Byron Katie, Author and Spiritual Teacher