Originally uploaded by Immortal Thrill-Seeker.
Pack-ratting was never my style. (I mean jeez, have you ever seen a real Pack Rat!??! They are grotesquely fat and look like they should be wearing a stained wife-beater undershirt with a soggy cigar squashed between their teeth, wheezing heavy through their noses, surrounded by dust bunnies and trash scraps) And don’t confuse these with the Rat Pack – that slick, well dressed gang of lounge/big band, scotch-swiggin performers in the first “Ocean’s 11.”
So for me, if I haven’t used it, touched it, or remember why I have it in the first place it goes into the giant *CLUNK* metal trash bin behind my house. Where, more than likely, the Alley Trollers will poke through and decide if they have a use for it. If it’s clothing, and I haven’t worn it in two cycles of seasons then it is tossed in a grocery bag, and dropped in those little red charity house-bins on the edges of parking lots. Sometimes, if I think it is something an Alley Troller might like – shoes for instance – I just casually leave them outside the trash bin and they are gone within twenty-four hours. But none of these decisions come rash and sudden. I give them time before I choose to toss.
There are times I don’t toss something, usually, for sentimental reasons. Like the “Pearl Texas Bluegrass Jam” T-shirt I hardly wear anymore that I bought in the nearly non-existent town of Pearl, TX during their first-Saturday bluegrass gatherings, because it was there I learned how to play mandolin with some of the oldest and best in the business. Then there is what looks like a broken silver hoop on my mantel but is really a bike spoke that spent near twenty years around my wrist after it and three of its brother’s shattered under the tension and gravel of a 65 MPH downhill outside of New Braunfels,TX.
Even so, the sentimental things are few. They have to have quite a significant impact to carry the place of remaining.
Most of the reason I toss things is that I like to travel lite – be it in real movement or in the existential. Mentally, I have enough voices and things pleading for my attention, so the less I keep the more space I have for the people and things in there that matter. At the heart level, well, a big heart doesn’t mean that it must be filled to the brim with clutter, so I do what I can to keep it light in there, too. Methinks that the bigger the heart the less clutter, kind of like the larger the play ground the more space to run free and play.
An area where this tossing and thinning gets a bit messy and borderline mean is relationships. I am not simply talking about old girlfriends – (though I could, ‘cause none of them ever read this). And there have been some that I should have walked away from sooner than later if I’d any sense. But relationships across the board sometimes have their day of reckoning and that for ALL of the reasons stated above. – clearing out the mental space, the heart space, can’t remember why I am in it, haven’t touched it, who are you again?
And no I don’t toss them out with the trash. Because people are not trash to be tossed, (though someone should try telling that to the racist bigot bastards of the world.) I’ve tried tossing some of the less friendly ones out of spite or hurt but the universe has an unfortunate ability of coming back and biting me in the ass. Case in point, my first three summers out of high school I had to work closely with the only two girls I ever dated seriously in high school. The quick lesson: watch how you walk away because you will eventually walk back into them.
The area that I have the trickiest time with is the relationships that hurt to keep holding but my gut knows I can’t just drop. These are the ones where Madeline L ‘Engle’s words bring comfort: “Love, and let go.” Or as my friend Melissa Meuzelaar is famous for saying, “Love deeply, hold loosely.” Lately, I have learned the desire to drop and walk in these particular instances comes from a place long ago inside of me – that place formed as a kid that coped with hurt by nothing short of fire safety: stop, drop and roll. Self-protection. While it might have served its purpose back then, it doesn’t work so well as a healthy adult. In the playground heart, it’s like making the conscious choice not to play in those vast areas of the heart because someone brought sticker-burrs with them when they joined me over there… in that grassy field near the swings.
So I find there are certain things that I carry with open hands, that some days are heavier than I would like, and other days are so light I don’t even know they are there. They are far too valuable for the Alley Trollers, and much deeper than sentimentality ever could be. They are human. And keep me so, too.