When young, being old is inconceivable although being “older” more desirable since there is a perception of freedom. In my day, children weren’t so closely guarded tho rather more closely guided. What a difference a couple of letters make.
My upcoming cross-country journey won’t be an outburst of fast food, rather I’m carrying my own as much as possible or obtaining something healthier along the way. It will mean nights of sleeping in “strange beds” as opposed to my familiar futon upstairs which I’ve already abandoned for the couch downstairs, trying to be in the same room as my dying cat. I am already practicing, yeh?
After the initial burst of utter rightness about relocating (I said to myself, “Wow! Everything in this room must go!” as I hung up the phone after making the arrangements. It was exciting!) I switched on & off. I did not give up the thought that letting go of possessions making my life more comfortable was the right one for me in the moment. I did roll through some fear tunnels where it was dark & full of slippery images: “You’re too old for this.” “You don’t know what you’re getting into” And then the litany of “What if’s??” all needed to be ripped out by the root until the journey became the only reality possible.
There has been much shocked reaction to “You will own nothing and be happy.” The two seem mutually exclusive in a society bent on acquisition to stave off evolution. But my blood remembers lifetimes spent owning nothing – some in poverty, some in spiritual commitment. Owning nothing means looking inward for entertainment, for learning dependence on others is not weakness, but rather an exultation on the strength of having friends, of the kindness of strangers manifesting & of the interesting experiment of austerity. This attitude has set me outside many perceptions where owning it all brings joy. For me, it meant more cleaning. I have always stood outside the corral of public opinion, sometimes waiting to get in but lately just walking around the edges.
As with walking a dog past fenced-in canines, the noise level is savage. The container dogs howl & yip at freedom enjoyed by others, carrying on as though their tails have been ripped off. The uncontained dog is an existential threat to their ways…an awakening when the dream is all they know. The unknown is to be feared.
I don’t perceive myself as a threat to others but I join many on the road now as a threat to the “system,” a way of life increasingly unsatisfactory. I mind less now having only three or four outfits, with the “decent” one, the Sunday best suit, hanging way back in the closet unworn. It was always a sign of material wealth to have a full wardrobe & vary outfits each day. I used to be like that but realize now it was an effort to fit in & assure acceptance. To be wearing the same clothes over & over – even though clean each time – was detrimental to image. Um, just not much caring about image anymore. No makeup, goofy hair, porky shape all equal a relaxation of the rules comprising my chain-link yard. From where I once barked at others, I now pace to the gate to undo the latch.
Thus the journey becomes the arrival.