You're living in America, Where it's like the twilight zone And when you're living in America at the end of the millenium, You're what you own. ~ Jonathan Larson, The Broadway Musical: Rent
Every weekend, I wash the clothes which were intended for a short trip. This week I'm finishing my tenth week away from NYC. I wonder about a lot as I sort through these familiar and well-worn clothes. It would be nice to have more yoga pants but I miss my sundresses. They are still tucked under my bed in Brooklyn for when I usually do the “swap” on the first warm day of spring. What will returning to my “old life” be like? When will that even happen?
These past months have squeezed me into an exile of simplicity. And like you, I’ve been assessing and reassessing what is necessary in life. In the moments when I realize I can’t get what I want right away, (what do you mean they’re still out of rice?) I begin to freak out and turn into Veruca Salt as my face pouts and I whimper “I want it noooooow.”
The practice of aparighraha (non-posessiveness) is the softening of our tight grip of expectations.
It’s the loosening of our custody over these physical possessions that we get to stuff into suitcases from time to time. It’s the releasing of the greed we feel when we want to get things our way. And it’s even the surrendering of the thinking that we know how things “should” be, even when it’s different from how things really are.
Yup, it's a hard pill to swallow.
And I'm practicing it too. So I breathe and soften my face as I look to the small pile of belongings, which I’m now happy to wash. The tantrum is evaded...at least this week. As I clean, my wonderings turn from what I wish I had, to appreciating what is actually in front of me. Everything in these bags seem to symbolize just a small portion of who I am. The portion of Sarah who lives still very attached to her possessions. And so I continue to soften and realize that actually during this quarantine, and even in my life, I have had everything I've needed, even if it wasn't everything I've wanted. It may have taken me ten weeks and a lifetime to get to this lesson, but I'm hoping that it too, in time, will be familiar and well-worn.