I've ummed and ahhed about whether to write this post or not. There's lots about my life that I don't publicise to the whole world. I might be exaggerating about the reach of my writing but I know that at least a few hundred strangers will be party to this highly personal reflection. In weighing up whether or not to publish, I've decided that sharing may be helpful to others...so here goes.
The need to explore the meaning of life has been increasing over past years. The premature passing of my sister and a close friend, my own brushes with death and mental illness and the breakdown of my marriage have all been possible catalysts. I work on different things at different times. One of the things that I've been mulling over lately is my relationship to the material world. Thich Nhat Hanh has said
'What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.'
I mentioned my Appalachian Trail exploits a couple of days ago. That was a time when I was incredibly content. I carried very little aside from the book: A couple of changes of clothing, basic toiletries, a pen and notepad, my bedding and my half share of a selection of very lightweight camping equipment. Devoid of possessions I found a freedom that I'd never felt before. Not many people in the developed world are privileged enough to have that experience. Since then the responsibility of ownership has weighed quite heavily.
So these days I give away more than I acquire. There's a carload of stuff to go to the charity shop at the moment. I freecycled the exercise bike the other day. Now I run regularly I don't need it. It went to a lady who was trying to regain fitness after a hip replacement. I was happy about that. But a Wayne Dyer talk that I was listening to got me thinking. He put forward the idea that, in order to make room for what we truly desire, we should give away things that we are really attached as well as the things that we no longer have a use for. As I was meditating the other day the specifics of what I needed to do were made known. It felt like I was being asked to give certain prized possessions away.
I gifted the lovely David Deakin picture of cutesy houses to Salty Dog. She knows that it was special to me. 'Why are you doing this?' I got embarrassed for I'm having difficulty myself with what's going on. 'I think God told me too.' I said. We laughed our socks off. Even though Salty Dog doesn't go with the 'hippy shit' herself she's delighted and accepted the gift nonetheless! Rather than being sad about this I felt strangely liberating. I'll still see the painting but not in my own home.
Other people that I've told have been rather shocked at what I'm doing too. 'Aren't you worried that you'll be left with nothing?' asked one. That's the last thing I'm anxious about. I knew someone once who lost everything. They woke up in hospital after being unconscious for several weeks. By then their landlord had disposed of all that they owned because he thought they'd done a runner. They survived and went on to rebuild a life. I am loved and know with 100% certainty that folks would rally round if something similar happened to me.
My boys are incredulous but opportunists. 'Can we have your Splash dish?' one of them asked hopefully. I declined, not because I'm clinging onto it. I was given specific instructions on who that should go to. Someone is going to have a wonderful surprise when I see them. But as a mark of my love for them, I've decided to hand over my Bernard Moss fisherman to Mr Metrosexual and Ruff Stu. God didn't tell me to do this. It's a decision that I made all by myself!