I have spent a few days in Sedona, doing business things and saying good-bye to my friends Sonja and Christine who are re-tracing their steps to Alice Springs, from where our connection to Jetsunma blossomed. It is a journey of going back to move forward - the regulations of where you were born and where you have lived and where you wish now to be, sometimes dictate our placement in time and space. They hope to return sometime, but meanwhile there is the unravelling and letting go. I stayed in their home, a scene of regulated chaos of objects and piles and boxes, some empty, some full, and stacking and sorting and stacking again. And sorrow. It is so enormous and almost unbelievable that they won't be here, they have been such an integral part of our KPC family.
They have, in 5 years, accumulated quite a lot. One does. So there is the constant decision making of what to keep and what to discard, whom to pass what on to. Things to ship and things to store. We all went through this when we left Australia; indeed they are returning to 200 hundred or something boxes stored neatly back there. None of us realised when we left that we would be away for years, possibly forever. I, too, have things stored - they will sort through my collection, whatever it may be. Stuff I felt was so important 51/2 years ago and which, for the most part, I cannot remember at all!
How we like to collect - objects, habits, ideas, without which we think we cannot function and yet......for the most part, as Jetsunma recently said, nonsense. Even out here, with limited space, my possessions have expanded beyond the 2 suitcases I arrived with. My clutter balloons to fill the available room, in place and mind, often spilling over in to every nook and cranny. It can frustrate me, even define me, and still I hoard it all! It is when you watch the dissolution, as now in Sedona, you can see how meaningless so much of it can be.
At least the mice have a purpose when they stash! I have been coming across unexpected suprises of peanuts and acorns. Recently I reached into my empty book bag, hanging on a hook on the wall, and there discovered a large supply of acorns. I later watched a mouse hurriedly transverse the wooden wall to deposit more, or perhaps to check the balance. In the small bathroom upstairs, I pulled a folded towel off the shelf and out poured more acorns. The cupboard below the sink was hiding peanuts. And last night - after only 3 days away - I opened my bedside drawer to discover another large stash of peanuts, buried beneath my journal. How busy and ingenious they have been!
But despite our tendency to want to stash and hoard, to try and fix the status quo, the world changes. Even in this brief period of absence the landscape has drastically altered here. The sycamores are all but naked, many plants wilted and yellowed by frost. There is a sense of barrenness, of sparsity, of shedding. The sky was grey, the air cool today. I changed the prayer flags, and the brilliance of the colours glowed in the otherwise flattened atmosphere.
Tomorrow is Lha Bab Duchen, a holy day for Buddhists, a day where the effects of thoughts and activities - positive or negative - are magnified 10 million times. A wonderful day for prayer, for kindness, for being mindful, for beginning a new life of compassion, or re-kindling the heart again. Thinking of others, of the world, of how we can make a change, by letting go of those habits and hoards which pin us down, and becoming soft and flexible with the energy of movement, mercy and love. And in your prayers I would ask you to include my beloved Gypsy Rose, who had a run-in with a big, fat javalina today, and has a slash on her side. The wound itself, while quite ugly, is not deep and should heal, but she is an older, sensitive girl, and very traumatised by the event. She is wrapped in a blanket on my bed, and looks at me with round, worried eyes when I come in the room. It is distressing, because she has been my comfort and support since I first lived here alone, and I owe her so much.
Letting go of those we love is almost the hardest thing to do, yet even that, one day, is inevitable. This is why we - now - should contemplate what truly is of value, what to keep and what to let go. How to begin to live our lives so that they make a difference. I really don't want to live with a cupboard of stuff, a drawer filled with peanuts and a mind cluttered with nonsense. It's time to haul it all out and review. I may not be travelling back to move forward, yet still i have to let go.