WHAT DO WE BECOME?
by Liz David
I have been “downsizing” my closets and dresser drawers–giving away coats, scarves, gloves, hats, sweaters. I’ve been trying things on and then attempting to decide whether or not I will continue wearing that skirt, top, pant, sock, jacket, or shoe. I have a medium-sized box stationed against the wall for objects that were on the bathroom window sill and around the Jacuzzi. I’m eying things in our bedroom but haven’t made decisions yet.
Believe me, that doesn’t even touch the downsizing challenge. The house is full of stuff that we’ve collected over the 45+ years we’ve lived here. I’ve been told one has to be brutal about this process, and I’m trying.
Gradually, I’ve started cleaning kitchen cabinets, starting with the one under the sink and the rotating one next to it. Eventually, I’ll get to the drawers. The silverware drawer and the one that holds the “wraps” and “plastic bags” are okay, but don’t ask about the 3 junk drawers! And now, I’m procrastinating about cleaning the oven. Even with a self-cleaning model, the door has to be done manually. Why bother? It just gets dirty again. The carpets need cleaning, except for the one in the family room which should just be replaced. The inside walls need painting. Door knobs need scrubbing. The dishwasher works but only runs the regular and heavy cycles. Who needs light and china cycles anyway? The clothes washer and dryer are fine, but don’t forget to turn the water faucet off when not in use. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Oops! I forgot to mention my precious books, Native American artifacts, and jewelry.
The exterior of the house is well maintained, thanks to the love of my life. It’s a “stately” looking house, gray with black shutters and a warm barn-red door which welcomes family, friends, pets, trick or treaters, and the occasional door-to-door salesperson. The lawn is a challenge. Some of the abundant trees have been cut down so they won’t fall onto the house in a hurricane or high wind storm. Sad. I mourn when a tree is fallen. Our back yard is bordered by acres of conservation land. I call it my emerald forest in Summer; glorious multi-colors in Autumn; newly fallen snow, fresh and clean, in Winter; Spring, well you know Spring buds–the world is born anew.
So, what does all this mean? What do our possessions, our well-tended homes, and lawns become? When we downsize, pare things down to a minimum, our abundance becomes the stuff of memory. When we move to a townhouse, condo, or lifelong living community, are we diminished? What do we become? What else is there to give away before we take up our final residence in a coffin or urn?
We give generously of our wisdom, thoughts, feelings; we mentor the younger generation and our contemporaries. We argue, offer opinions, and listen attentively. We volunteer. We march for just causes. We meditate and pray. We cry for and with our friends. We accompany them until they are no more. We love, and love, and love some more.
We give of ourselves to others and allow others to give of themselves to us as we age, decline, and eventually melt back into the Universe from where we came.
My passion is to help others to gain deeper understanding of themselves and the changes, losses, gains, and glories of aging. So, “grow old along with me–the best is yet to be.”