11 February 2008

emptying the bucket

Phew… it’s a long one! I’m on the verge of a revolution (or at the very least a biggish change) and credit goes to Holley’s dad for helping me to articulate it!

Holley’s folks visited for her graduation last year. She’s one of those lucky sods who come from a functional, close-knit family and she clearly adores her mum and dad. I’d met them once before but felt like I knew them largely through her stories of home and growing up. I’m always curious about meeting friends’ parents, and even more so when they’ve created a family that works. There was no disappointment. Dave and Pam are lovely warm people who arrived with a big box of chokkies (great start!) and a willingness to converse for hours. If I had to pick one thing that Holl, Ethan and I all really delight in it would be a good conversation so – needless to say – everyone got along just fine.

Pam is quiet and reflective. She has a gentle, relaxed air about her, quickly settling back and taking it all in. She’s an artist and we spent time talking textiles and looking at my work. Dave is a bundle of boyish energy and makes it very clear where Holl gets her optimism and enthusiasm from! He kept us well entertained over the kitchen table. We soaked up his stories about making a way in the world and consciously choosing the less obvious path.

Dave and Pam have forged a creative life for themselves – working from their small property, selling what they can, living on modest means and with deliberately modest needs. It’s exciting to meet someone who’s walking the talk. As Dave puts it, they’ve chosen to empty the bucket. He wasn’t free to explore a creative life while he grappled with the responsibilities of fulltime work. He could only carry one bucket and it was filled up with the daily grind. There was no time or energy left for anything else. His only option was to empty the bucket and that’s exactly what he did. He gave up most of what he knew in order to make space for what he wanted. The act of emptying the bucket freed space for a more meaningful and satisfying life.

Serious de ja vu kicked in as Dave talked about making the decisions that I’ve discussed with friends one hundred times over but am yet to commit to. Several times Dave’s words mirrored my conversations with Ethan exactly and I had to laugh. It was hard not to feel as though the Universe was stepping in.

It seems like everyone around me is grappling with an overflowing bucket, trying to stuff more and more on top of what is already a crippling case of overload. I know I’m not alone in dealing with the problems that creates. I’ve been working with that bucket my whole adult life: attempting to perfect the contents, polish them to a high shine, rearrange them so they fit better. But the bottom line is that there is just too much in there. My life is crammed with superfluous stuff. I’m a hoarder, a collector, a magpie. I accrue mental and physical baggage everywhere I go and find it almost impossible to let go. I fear a future where I’m smothered by the lot of it. A potentially beautiful life buried under a mountain of meaningless accumulations.

Well I say NO! 2008 is my year of emptying the bucket. I’ve made the decision to leave Wollongong mid-year and take time out for myself. I want to pare my life down to something manageable. For a start I plan to get rid of at least 50% of my possessions before I head off. I’m daunted, I’m overwhelmed, I’m a little freaked to be honest, but here’s where YOU CAN HELP!

Check out my growing list of possessions to be pared [...COMING SOON...]. Fancy anything? Is there a nice nook at your place that could do with some sprucing? Always coveted my teapot collection? Now’s your chance fellas! Get in with your offers (a 50 cent donation to the Travel Fund, a willingness to collect me washing machine) and help me shed my stuff!

Over the next couple of months I’ll be extending the list, adding photos, and shipping things off to the highest/most deserving bidder. The whole process will probably culminate with a giant garage sale and birthday celebration in June. You're all invited!

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