As I transition to a new chapter in my life, I am presently spending time sorting all the stuff that constituted the previous life chapter, boxes of files brought home from my office, shelves where household items have accumulated, closets filled with clothes I seldom (or never) wear. Though I am in a pattern in which I seem to be moving frequently, I still manage to store up an amazing amount of things that with each move have to be handled, wrapped or boxed, carried, unpacked and put in yet another place where they are again likely to remain forgotten and untouched until the next move. That so many of my possessions are covered with dust speaks volumes about their lack of significance for me, how I put them away and forget them until the next move.
Each repetition of this pattern provokes the same unresolved question: why do I persist in keeping close books, clothing, decorative items, kitchenware, extra tools or cleaning supplies, boxes of staples and paper clips, even furniture, that I clearly do not need, probably do not even want? A relocation invites me to discard such things, and while I do happily accept that invitation and set about discarding, I also seem to keep an opposite process in place that acquires, stashes, accumulates.
Along with obvious explanations such as a culture that encourages materialism and acquisition, I suspect my piles of stuff point towards some spiritual work to be done around innate desires for security and control. Surrounded by objects of convenience and protection and entertainment, I can be assured of easy access to all I want or need, having all my bases covered, no matter what else happens. The stuff of my life reassures me that I am firmly anchored. Unfortunately, that same anchoring stuff can interfere with my ability to experience a different sort of anchor, an inner anchor that abides through all the chances and changes that come my way, abiding because it requires no thing for its existence. Poet T. S. Eliot envisioned it as the “still point of the turning world,” a place in the center of my being where I am continually grounded, held in place without my having to do something to acquire it or maintain it. The still point is simply there, a fundamental fact of being alive.
Because I have been sorting, discarding, and accumulating for so long now I doubt I can make much headway in changing this pattern. But maybe alongside all the dust and stuff of my life I can more often notice the still point in me, a graceful place of resting beyond efforts to control, a place where I am truly free.