A Pilgrim’s Journey, Part 2: People are the Thing

It’s getting serious now. For the first time in years, I possess more things than will fit in my tiny car. It’s the kitchen stuff, instruments, hardbacks and house plants. Clothes barely interest me (I’m working on that).

As I observe friends “tidying up” up according to that book, I can only nod and smile. I know how hard it is. As I threw away and gave away furnishings, family mementos, beloved books, all my instruments and art (especially those oil paintings), reducing to a car load, I alternately felt like Christmas and death. Not because I wanted to cart all that crap around any more, or dust and clean it (especially that!). It was saying good-bye to the past in ways I hadn’t trusted myself to do before.

Any object related to romantic love went, along with photos, awards, job titles, ID cards, t-shirts—worldly proof of who I am and what I’ve accomplished thus far went bye-bye. (I kept a few important papers, obviously.)

I’ve never doubted my process, nor regretted it. Not even once. But the alternating “hello new” and “good-bye old” during those months I downsized was crazier than Dragon Khan, a roller coaster I once rode with a friend in Spain.

Then, in the last year or so I began noticing that my obsession with owning only what would fit in my car was becoming another kind of materialism. Darn it, once again, I was preoccupied with things. I let go of that too, and moved on to the next phase, which allowed me to buy a guitar, a vacuum, and recently, finally Hallelujah! a wonderful sauce pan and stir fry pan. Plus plants, books and art supplies.

I tidied up big-time years ago, and have encouraged my friends in their process. They won’t go to the extreme I did and don’t need to. I was on a different mission.

This has been the lesson: giving everything away is simultaneously freeing and grieving; obsession with being non-materialistic is just another attachment to things.

Things aren’t people, and only people matter to me and that’s the thing.


Dragon Kahn, “the only roller coaster in the world with 8 loops.”
A Pilgrim’s Journey, Part 1

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