I’ve been reading a lot about being minimal; in diet, possessions, technology, mind set. What do I really want, really need that adds the most value to my life? It’s quite personal, the answers to those. My body, my thoughts, my emotions nudge me to pay close attention these days. The future doesn’t seem endless like it used to. I’ve gone past my “hunting and gathering” days and I find myself shedding what has hung off like barnacles. I wonder how I’d have chosen differently, had I thought to ask this question more urgently in my younger years. I throw even that off, though, and walk on. I don’t have time to harness myself.
I live in a 150+ year old house, the rooms built all in a row. I’ve created sort of a first floor “attic” in my living room, where the shedding has begun. I’ve piles of books, trinkets, and furniture that seemed like a good idea at the time. They’re in there together now, mingling like a roomful of old men smoking cigars and slapping each other’s backs, reminiscing. I’ll wait for spring to set them out on my front lawn and invite others to peruse. I’ve pushed and scraped things into place, emptied out shelves and drawers. I start to feel differently. The tether to things is loosening. It is easier to let go than I thought.
I got up this morning, and sat in company with my coffee. I have right now. What shall I do with it? It’s these thoughts that often bind me up. I can’t think of anything that seems important enough, big enough to matter. I’m reading The Oregon Trail, A New American Journey by Rinker Buck. A desire bigger than a dream pushed him into action and he and his brother recreated the trek that so many other brave and deliciously reckless souls before us saddled up for. I picture them in my mind; nameless, faceless, lost to anyone’s history, doing every day chores, thinking every day thoughts. And one choice at a time formed a life lived. Whether I know about it, whether anyone remembers? It mattered then. It matters now. And I decide to lay my fretful notions of grandiose in the same room with the old men relics.
I decide to decide, one choice at a time. I grab my camera and go for a walk. Outside fills my lungs and my mind with oxygen. My world becomes bigger, bigger than me, and there’s room for joy and bird songs and the beautiful in the every day and I take notice and snap it quick so I can remind myself. I wonder what the Oregon Trail “ghost” people would have left behind, had they had cameras. I wonder if they would have thought we’d have cared.
I pay attention to the colors and sounds around me, I notice the smallness and the big, in equal measure. It all weaves together, color blocks, life quilt. I take my fullness home and make more choices, small decisions. I read to my girl and stop to look up things we wonder about to find answers. We gather up Christmas gift cards and go to hunt some tennis shoes for walking, shoes I could not afford, save the blessing from a friend. I need these shoes. My feet are beginning to feel age and wear that younger years betrayed me into thinking would never happen to me. The pain, though, reminds me. Nothing taken for granted, nothing too small to be grateful for. I slip into my new kicks and wear them the rest of the day, floating on a cloud of relief. It is good to be loved, to receive, to feel the ripple of kindness with each step I take.
The girl and I make lunch together, all chopped onions and spices and we pile our plates high and look across the table from one another. Time spent eating, simple acts. “I love this day, mama.” My heart warms to her words. We’ll forget this particular lunch, this particular moment. There will be more of them. But this choice to sit and savor? A good one. I wash up the dishes clean and leave them to dry. We walk to the feed store down the street, the Mayberry flavor that makes you look to see if Aunt Bea or Sheriff Taylor is just behind you. We gather up suet cakes and cages to go with them and take them back home to hang on our Christmas tree, now relocated to the back yard, to give it new purpose, a new kind of living.
The day is ending now, the “doing things” part of it, and I find myself feeling on purpose. Intentional. And I decide I’ve found my word for the rest of this year. I will look for the value in what I am doing, saying, thinking, reading, eating……how I consume the currency of my time. I will live on purpose, content with the lack of grandiose, and take the next step. I will decide to live to enrich and be enriched.
I will walk without barnacles.