Thursday, July 30, 2015

Old job, new direction

I decided, after many false starts at finding a new career for myself, to continue with my strange not-really-a-housekeeper, not-really-a-therapist work. I didn't want to be crawling around in attics and basements when I am 75 (I'll need to work all my life). I've had some wonderful successes, and some crashing, depressing failures in this work; I've seen so many ways to live, and spoken with so many interesting people about why they have what they do and how they intend to keep up with it/part with it after I'm gone. I've learned that, much like being a good friend, most of the time you have to keep your personal stories and opinions to yourself and just listen while someone has a meltdown; let it happen, let those emotions flow right down to the ground. Maybe there is a way to slowly shift to therapy in an office space, or to just the talking part, while still maintaining the ability to really see and experience the problem in situ. Maybe I'll write a book. I'll think about it while I'm still able to haul boxes.

I've learned recently what it feels like to voluntarily give up what I'd come to feel as home, most of my personal possessions and even my beloved cat, in order to gain real freedom from my own feelings of powerlessness and dependency. I did not become a rabid minimalist because of it, and sometimes I feel like I've had the emotional shit kicked out of me, to be a bit crude about it. But I don't regret it. I know my kitty is safe and loved. I don't feel like this is a permanent solution for me, either. I live in a tiny room and trade work for my expenses, to save money, and I help others downsize and get organized. This is not really the life I wanted for myself, but decisions I made in the past put me in some student loan debt and made carting around a lot of stuff and being responsible for a sweet older cat a burden. It kept me at the mercy of whoever's roof I was under, because that roof was never my own. I constantly worried about the safety of my kitty, and the preservation of my privacy, and my things. It made other worries, like relationship problems, wildly overmagnified and kept me a slave to anxiety. I chose an extreme route to freedom, but it was my choice and I'm proud of it. I see the end of this road, and the beginning of another. That new road is nicely paved!

It seems, to look at the big picture a moment, like even if you own your own home, you're still at the mercy of the weather, your personal finances, your health, your religion, maybe even things as basic and unchangeable as your color or sexual orientation. Lucky is anyone with a place to call home, but many are those who have an unsafe one (or just plain the wrong size one in the wrong place). Many are those who dread going home because it is a horrible cluttered mess and doesn't feel good to be inside or bring anyone else. Many are those with tidy homes who open a Closet of Shame and instantly lose their willpower to fix it, because it's just too damn overwhelming. Sounds like hyperbole to use those kind of descriptive words, but it sure feels easy to rationalize being dramatic when it's your home, your life. But take action: do something. Find your catharsis and stop tormenting yourself because you're used to it. You don't have to hurt to feel alive. One of the most valid reasons to keep anything is because it brings you happiness. But all things are not equal, and all happiness does not reside in things. You can find a balance. Right now my happiness is tied up in working off a debt rather than enjoying my possessions. What's making you happy these days?

Well, so here I am again, philosophizing. I'm going back to what I know, and that is conversations about people, places, and stuff. This time I will not be distracted by actual hoarding or homelessness (although we'll touch on those things) but on everyday people's issues. I'll go back and get the essays I wrote earlier that I archived when I did a stint in library school, and we'll reexamine those in light of what I've learned since.

And I'll travel, and help organize and downsize and be a friendly face in a time of need, as I have done before and loved to do. I hope you'll come with me.

1 comment:

  1. It's all just stuff. In reality we own nothing. The Universe lets us be caretakers for a short period of time.
    It's the memories attached to the stuff we treasure or rather should treasuret.
    Hey, my friend Ilana still has some interesting stuff to unload.