This week I kept thinking: This is too damn easy. I was having so. much. fun! I had to pace myself. I had to refrain from going on a cleaning splurge!
Don’t give it all away at once, I kept thinking! I’m going to hit Day 30 in no time and have to commit to an extra month in order to get to the hard stuff!
I began to think, maybe my irrational nostalgia* is not as strong as it used to be — maybe I’m just ready to give up everything. And if so? Bring it on!
And then, of course, I hit a tiny wall.
The Christmas Box and the coin mug
I found myself hesitating over what felt like a truly random and unworthy object: half of a set of Twelve Days of Christmas-themed stacking boxes. A decorative flourish type of thing that doesn’t go well with nosy cats and toddlers. Not my style. Easy!
But my gut reaction hesitated mightily, so I left it in the trunk.
And I thought to myself, I’m not being irrational. I just changed my mind, you see.
The box is still in my trunk, a week later. In limbo. But I moved on…
Last night, I found an old mug full of foreign coins. I spilled them out on the floor, planning to donate everything except two satisfyingly hefty British pound coins. I gathered the rest up, ready to donate…and then I rapidly dumped them back up into their familiar mug and put it back in the Keep pile.
The coin mug made me realize what had happened with the Christmas box: ouch! It was like stepping on my own toe.
I wanted to think there was no pain. It’s half of a slightly-ugly set of pointless holiday decorations! It’s a mug of small change! What could be more useless!?
But there was something hiding there.
Obligations. Expectations and consequences, both imagined and real. Connections to my own past. Dreams about my future.
What to do?
The nostalgia box
I wasn’t able to come up with a good answer to that difficult cargo of questions and expectations and connections. Maybe I’ll get there later, it’s hard to know.
I do know that when I began this project and thought ahead to the possible difficulties, I imagined a future in which I had one small box of nostalgic keep-it-anyway stuff. Not several large boxes and innumerable small caches in drawers and desks and jewelry boxes. And one small box of Penny’s baby clothes, not massive piles.
So I created my nostalgia box.
Plenty of room for more additions.
A little box of safety for those stubbed toes, I guess.
I’m still not sure what I’ll do about things that don’t fit into a shoebox (my mandolin? my fancy camera?) and fall into that want-to-donate-but-can’t category.
But I do feel strengthened (chastened?) by this first encounter with the irrational weirdness. Because it made me get the urge to quit the project, to admit it was foolish and/or impossible, but I also glimpsed the pattern there: the immense fatigue at realizing something I’d dismissed as easy had in fact turned out to be hard; the painful panic when hitting that edge of irrationality, impossible to understand and impossible to route around; the seeking of justifiable quick exits (eight days is good enough! or…work is just so damn busy! or…) not as a means of wrapping up but as a means of escaping that irrational void.
These are precisely the same patterns** I run into in other areas of my life. Precisely the challenges I want to face. The challenges I designed this project to address, even!
This is just a note to myself to remember: this is what you want to do. Even when it’s hard. (Especially when it’s hard.) With as much compassion as you can muster. With safety. With courage. With gentle investigation.
You want to seek out the edge of irrationality and carefully navigate around and through it in order to find whatever new balance lies on the other side. With hopefully fewer stubbed toes.
Because eight days has been awesome. The full thirty awaits with more rewards. It’s worth it to keep going.
xo, my friends. Thank you, as always, for reading.
———————————————————————–* Point of clarification! I say “irrational nostalgia” not because I don’t believe in and value nostalgia. I do. It’s a big part of my identity. Nor do I believe in eradicating the irrational from my life. Hello, no way. However! Some nostalgia feels good (aw, my old journals!) and some nostalgia makes me itchy (why do I have this closet-sized hoard of stuff I’m not touching and not using and aaaaaaaaahhhhh burn it all!). Partly I want to investigate that “keep it” urge and find out where it intersects with the “burn it” urge. Just to clarify! ** This round of immensely loud and brain-poppingly amazing pattern-noticing and brain breaking is brought to you, as usual, by Shiva Nata and especially the amazing last month of classes with Havi. Singing and hopping and madly flailing is the brightest and best counterpart to this thirty-day project: gleeful abandon to chaos and the whirling forms and patterns in order to break it all down and build it all anew. Oh yes.