less is more

Watch this. Watch me write for you without a single picture put in here as shorthand. It feels as cool and sweet as spring water. August Break was lovely, a break in almost every sense, but this is my milieu, and it’s good to be home just in time for September and transition.

Growing up, this time of year wasn’t quite autumn yet. September was still a month for jacketless days, when the back-to-school clothes I’d fought over were still too hot and teachers closed the classroom blinds against the heat of the afternoon. The air turned crisp in October, or maybe during the last shreds of September. But I’ve seen the weather forecast for this week, and though I can’t trust Environment Canada any farther than I trust (that bastion of reliability) Canada Post, the trees tell all the story I need. Yellow leaves, orange leaves. Empty branches already! The tree I shot back in early August is nothing but sticks and bark and chipmunk jungle gym today. I prefer the other trappings of September—monogrammed pencils and notepads (the pleasure when my name finally started showing up on those racks!), a lunchbox with its cartoon characters still intact, the launch of The Big New with all its attendant possibilities. September feels much more like a fresh start to me than January does. 

But we are human and we create fresh starts at our whim. I think animals are not aware that diets start on Mondays and weekends start on Fridays (Thursday nights in some places) and January first changes everything.

Last year for a Reverb10 prompt I wrote about things I wanted to get rid of for this year. I haven’t shed nearly as much as I wanted to. For today’s holiday Monday, we are moving rooms and furniture (again) and somehow boxes of things will once again migrate from one room to the other. I am so tired of these migrating things. They aren’t unlovely, but there are so many of them. Sunday I came across this post from Jennifer at Open Book, and she helped to strengthen my resolve:

Because, in truth, I feel these things weigh me down with a near-oppressive anchor to the past. I feel these things tethering me to moments gone by, or failures owned, until the act of looking forward - much less moving that direction - becomes difficult, and the safety of sitting in what’s already been takes on an air of false comfort.

There are all sorts of mechanisms by which we connect ourselves to our pasts. But I need the connections to be flexible, so that they bend with me. I don’t buy things the way I used to, and almost everything that comes into this house is either something that can be used up or a book. And I find that I like living this way; I never see commercials so I don’t even know what I’m missing. So not much is coming into the house, but that doesn’t mean I need to hold on to the rest that’s already here, the ponderous collections of items that I was afraid to release, in case they had meaning.

I have had enormous holes inside. Nothing I ever bought did a thing to fill them, unless you count the people that computers have brought into my life. Here is what has filled holes for me: A life with purpose. Hard work. Strong hands and love. Truth-telling, even when it’s hard. Being truly known by a another good person who wants nothing but the best for you. Good sentences and sunsets and, yes, the smell of fallen leaves while they’re being raked and bagged. Pruning a bush and polishing a mirror. My grandmother’s laugh. Love, did I say that? Of course I did. Love. Time. It may have taken me thirty-eight years, but I do know what to throw away and what to fight to keep.