08 March 2006

It Ain't Worth The Stink

I've been watching "What the Bleep Do We Know" semi-compulsively over the last few days (if you've never seen it, stop reading this RIGHT NOW and go find a copy!!!!!). Love that film. Love how it stretches my brain into new and interesting shapes. Anyway...in a fabulous act of synchronicity, my pal Pam sent me a feng shui kit. A book, some crystals, a mirror. So I'm reading that, with the dialog from What the Bleep in the back of my head. And I'm realizing some things. It is in our nature, apparently, to acquire material stuff, and then drag it along with us. And what's more, we also accumulate the junk our ancestors collected, and that stuff is more... fraught... than the stuff we accumulate for ourselves. But the stuff is memorabilia, carried around for the purpose of evoking memory. Just ask anyone. As a characteristic of Life on Planet Earth, we human beings have glitches. We have bad days, worse days, catastrophic gut-wrenching moments. It happens. Just ask anyone. According to the biochemists, and the psychiatrists, your brain synapes wire to each other associatively. So if you associate something with someone, the memory synapse associated with the person co-wires to the synapse associated to the something. Which is to say... when you see the thing, you remember the person, and all the co-wiring that's associated with them. Good days, bad days, catastrophic, gut-wrenching days. Fascinatingly, the brain cannot tell the difference between something in storage in your head (memory), and something you're seeing. Which means that a flash of memory of a train wreck is the very same thing as being at the train wreck originally. So whenever you see your stuff, it's the same as reminding yourself of the drama associated with it. Which psychologically and biochemically speaking, means you are anchoring yourself to the drama of the past. With all that in mind, if I asked you if I should keep anything at all that reminds me of my ex, what would you say? You'd say hell no, wouldn't you? Anything at all that reminds me of him should be pitched with great enthusiasm, right? And yet, when I hold up the objects, and say, "should I ditch this?" people almost always tell me no. It's worth money. Or it's useful somehow. Or I might need it. Or whatever reason. And every time I look at those things, my body gets treated to a biochemical wash of, well, catastrophic gut-wrenching. So I am once again rampaging through my home like a tornado, getting rid of belongings. Things that have intrinsic value, but psychic stink. And it's weird how much lighter I feel, and I'm not even finished yet. I wonder how good it's going to feel when I'm done...


At 3/13/2006 12:33:00 PM, Blogger LadySeduction said...

You are the third person now who is reading that book/watching that movie and telling me about it. I think I am tired. I want to grow but need a small break to just sit and be, even tho I am fairly unhappy here at the moment. It's probably the depression talking, hard to tell.
I absolutely agree with what you are talking about here and get quite compulsively attached to STUFF. I think I am afraid I will forget something and then have to go thru it again. KWIM? As usual, according to your idea, I have it backwards and AM going thru it b/c I keep the stuff?

At 3/13/2006 01:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spring cleaning in a wider sense seems to be in the air.
I had a fit of going through all my files yesterday (well, one end of them; got stuck halfway through by starting on my taxes - argh!), but without DH and DD (and DS inside) tugging on my attention, I felt I could have easily cleaned out that whole home office! Today I read on ICAN that kmom was "going through some files" too.
So by karmic coincidence - let's keep de-cluttering our places and minds!

At 3/13/2006 08:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You go grrl!
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
- William Morris
...and stuff with bad vibes has got to go!
Spring is in the air here too, but it's an uphill battle. Can someone get these people out of my home so I can declutter for a week please?? Ks

At 3/14/2006 10:42:00 AM, Anonymous Mom2 said...

gut wrenching or not, keep it if it means something to YOU. There will always be something to remind you of gut wrenching, be it a word, something you see, etc. Besides sometimes you can't get rid of the reminders. I have 2 Awesome Sons and Grandsons from my gut wrenching.

At 3/16/2006 12:11:00 AM, Anonymous Bryan said...

I like Japanese homes.

Open inviting spaces. Very little clutter. Very utilitarian and practical. Clean. Simple. Straightforward. Makes you want to sit and breathe peacefully on a zafu watching light play over the shoji screen.

On my way to work I pass by someone's home. It looks like a shack on the edge of an apple orchard. There's an old rusted pickup in the front, a couple of junkyard dogs slinking about, even an old civil war replica cannon peeking out of a destroyed barn door. Their christmas lights are still strung up. They say "Merry" but there's no "Xmas" to be seen anywhere. It looks like all the trash from Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" has been piled up between the barn and the old Victorian house next door. They've probably been meaning to get that to the dump for some time now.

I don't have to think too hard to get an idea of what these people's state of mind is. Perhaps it's cluttered. They probably think too much about things, but feel so helplessly buried in STUFF.

Every year or so I get rid of a bunch of junk. I have a rule. If I looked at it last year and said "I don't want to get rid of this" and I haven't seen it since, I throw it out or give it away. If it's something I've been meaning to fix, I'm probably not going to fix it anyway. Why be attached to an old raggedy Sea-dogs T-shirt that no longer fits?? Memories? I have those anyway.

When I'm done, I feel like I've shed some mental clutter, my house is cleaner and easier to move around in, and the stuff that means the most to me right now is right there.

At 3/26/2006 12:58:00 PM, Anonymous Dana said...

I soooo much enjoyed this blog. Of course anything that digs into neurobiology sends my synapses firing wildly.

I say, if the thing gives you a feeling of pride and accomplishment, then keep it. Like the snap shot from God Jason had taken of my ex and I at the beach. It was gutwrenching for a long time, a reminder of how crappy we were together. But it was the reminder I needed not to be guilted into going back!

Recently, I burned it, and my only pangs of regret were that I was burning something Jason had shot.

When I gave away all my books on divorce and divorce recovery, dating and how to live as a single person, it was a huge relief. I didn't even realize that they were holding me in that area of uncertainty and confusion. I knew I was past the point of needing to read them again, but just as you say, the associations were negative.

If the things of the ex remind you of personal growth and how you managed to get out of an unhappy relationship, keep them. But if they are a reminder of what was "supposed to be" or of him in general, and what went down the toilet, toss them.

I have recently gone through and thrown away a lot of stuff that had belonged to my grandmother, because instead of reminding me of her, or how I loved her, they remind me of unhappy I felt she was, the fatigue I always saw in her face. Dana


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