Monday, August 24, 2015
As I enter my sixtieth year, I take stock on the abundance of my life. I am surrounded by the trappings of a rich and affluent existence: kayaks stacked in the back yard, bikes hanging from the ceiling, camping gear overflowing in the storage closet, T-shirts from 30 years of cycling and running events, stacks of work shorts and blue jeans. The list could go on and on.
But now that sons are moving on and I am slowing down, it's time to downsize. Do I really need four kayaks? Six road bikes? Three mountain bikes? Backpacking tents, climbing ropes, polypropylene underwear that I will likely never use again?
Then there is the property: land in Patagonia, in Tucson, on Mount Lemmon, in New Mexico. I am cash strapped but property rich, and that property costs time, energy, and money in terms of maintenance.
Yes, all of these possessions require some amount of time, energy, thought, and money to hold and maintain.
I am short on these things, and it is time to thin, to downsize, to simplify.
Yet I am reticent to begin the inevitable winnowing. Why?
I know, somewhere that all of these things are not the real wealth of my life and that I will have to give it all up soon enough. I see in them my body, all of its strength and vitality that is declining. I see in them my senses fading -- sight and hearing growing dimmer. I see in them the desert I so love to explore narrowing to what I can see from the road, or a car, or a window. The world is receding, slowing, inexorably.
And there is more to be surrendered. You know what I mean. There are the people, the times of a life, the memories, the cornerstones of being, all of the companions who have kept me company on this crazy life-walk. It has begun already. Friends with whom I have shared breath and life and love. Women I have slept with, even married, have departed.
It begs the big question: If I have loved all this, how can I let it go?
The answer, I say to myself, is to combine surrender with the love. Love life and prepare to let it go.
There is no way around that. The lesson is a hard one, one of the hardest, one of the most spiritually necessary.
And so I lean into it, opening even wider, loving even deeper, knowing that I will never be able to possess that which is dearest to me.
Love it. Love it so deeply that you crack open and burn with light. Then let it go, dear pilgrim. Let it go.
And say thank you.
Now, who wants a kayak?