Friday, August 31, 2012

Some of the things I've been thinking about lately

One of the main things I've been thinking about lately is a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre:

"Become aware of the significance of your situation"
 - Jean-Paul Sartre

It's complicated, my situation.  It's not as straight forward as it could be spun, or spun is the wrong word, but the significance of my situation regarding my home, actually my house now, in terms of the wider social situation in Ireland at the moment, could be viewed as straightforward. 

I can't afford to live there, I can't afford to sell it, I'd still owe about €100,000, at least.  

So that's part of the significance of my situation right now, in the wider social context of contemporary Ireland. 

It's part of it, but it's not all of it.  At a glance, that's all true.  And it is true.  But it's not that simple, although with the downsizing complete, it's getting simpler every day.  
I bought my house in 2000, the millennium year, and I bought through fear.  That's the primary reason I bought the house.  Fear.  It seems bizarre now, given the downsizing and only holding onto a rucksack of stuff, how could I have felt I needed to own a house full of things in order to be secure, how can that be the truth?  But it was, it was the truth, then.  I was afraid.  I was afraid of The Life and I was afraid of having no where to go, no where to go where I'd feel safe and secure.  

But this whole process is more about what I value, what I hold important, what is meaningful to me, how I choose to live The Life, the one life I have and how I need to be in the world right now.  I went to college when I was 26, I left a 'permanent pensionble' job in the health services to go and study Theatre and Sociology, to go and do what I always wanted to do, and had always been doing on a part time basis.  I took a risk and I left and I have never regretted it.  It was the beginning of me consciously becoming who I am.  It was an amazing experience in learning who I am and what I do and what I may become.  
So the reality of the whole house thing for me is a trade off, it's letting go of a false promise, letting go of an idea of needing something to be secure in the world, needing walls, needing a safe place..."I was aiming for a different life" I was aiming for that life because I was not aware that I had other options, I was not conscious of the infinite (almost) possibilities of how to live this life.  I was afraid.  I was scared of total freedom.  I am happier now than I have ever been before, doing what I love, what I was meant to do, learning and developing my practice and my understanding.  The fact of this is for me that I can't have a house to live in and live the life I want to live at the same time.  And it's not a sacrifice, its a gift.  To become who I am.  To choose to downsize my life and do what I love to do rather than gamble on needing something when I'm 80 that is prohibiting me living my life right now, in the here and now.  For some reason I felt guilty for a while about this.  I felt like it was unfair that I had this mortgage that I can't afford to pay any more because I choose to go to college and do what I want to do.  I felt guilty about reneging on that commitment to the world.  It's weird writing that but that's how I felt.  Like I didn't deserve to be happy, joyous and free.  Which is ridiculous, because I believe that everybody has the right to be happy.  Each of the Downsize notes ends with 

"Wishing you Love and Abundance and Joy"

and that's what I wish for everyone, so why not me too?  Why the guilt?  It's ingrained, it's in the blood of the Irish I think, the fixation with the land, surviving, striving, fighting to hold on to things, fighting to get things back, anger, fear of loosing, injustice, fear of letting go, fear of being free, forgetting that we already are.  We are free.  We have always been free in our soul, listening to the soul of the world, listening to the soul of the country right now is tough, we're suffering, we're facing things we haven't looked at head on, we're remembering who we are, and we're adjusting, the practicalities are tough, for a huge number of people, we've lost things, we've lost faith, but I have a sense that it was misplaced faith, a giving over of our power to a Church that fucked us over from the beginning, that kept us small and burdened and working for some one else all the time.  And I think we have a different sort of faith that we've always held inside us, our old pagan ways of understanding The Natural, understanding The Universe.  

I felt like I hadn't the right to change my life, I felt like I was obliged to keep going as I was, pushing through.
That's not the truth.  I have got a choice.  
I have a right to choose how to live my life.  
We all do.  And I think we're remembering that now.
I think we're remembering that.
And I am very grateful for that.

"...there is always a choice, no matter how small, there is always a choice..."
- Jean-Paul Sartre

I've been thinking about change, obviously, this is a huge change for me, and it's pretty radical in the context of my life so far.  This is probably the biggest physical shift in how I live The Life that I've ever chosen and experienced.  And it has ramifications and ripples not just in my life but in the lives of those around me, particularly those closest to me.  I've had some very interesting chats with people about this process, inevitably this process reflects and resonates in the lives of other people, it's a natural thing to compare or view things from one's own perspective, so in the downsizing people I've talked to inevitably think about their own possessions, and what they couldn't bare to part with, and also what they've accumulated and what actually could go.  
For me, the gifting saved me!  If that hadn't have come into being I'm not sure how I would have done this, or even if I'd have been able to.  The gifting made it all easier, and the gifting took on a life of it's own too.  It became a ritual of it's own, and a whole other process, with each gift a little note of the downsizing needed to be written to explain the process and then, it became important to gift to a lot of people, and each note had to be written, becoming not only significant for the gifting but to say things about why they were getting this particular gift and also saying things that I needed to say, expressing my feelings in writing to friends and family, letting them know they are important to me and a lot of thanks too, for being there for me, for sharing in The Life so far, and that clarified what's important to me in The Life, The Love!  Always The Love, love is the answer to all the questions!  So it's been emotional! 'It's been real' as they say in America! And it's been a beautiful process for me overall, because of the gifting.

There was a couple of freak outs too, not major ones, but like mild panic attacks where my hands shook telling my friend earlier this week all in one go what I was doing!!! And moments of walking around my house repeatedly from room to room just looking at it, and moving stuff around, piles and bags and bringing things from one place to another and carrying bags into charity shops and getting confused about objects and who was to get them and confusing myself with stuff everywhere!

I forensically went through my life.  My life so far.  Going back to the beginning, looking through everything and assessing its value to me, and whether it was historical or current, and then deciding what to do with it.  It's been fairly intense really, now that I write about it! But also, quite joyful and beautiful.  

I have no regret.  I have a sensation that this is absolutely the right thing for me, though I can't prove it and I don't know what will happen next.  I'm Trusting The Universe again, fully and completely.  I'd lost that sensation for a while there, I was getting confused and afraid and caught up in too many questions and imaginings and basically an existential crisis, again! But today I have that sensation back.  The Universe always provides, always.  That's my experience, and I'm very grateful for it.  

Everyday I walk into The Unknown towards The Universe

This is a fact, and it's a fact that's easier to live with if I'm aware of it, if I'm conscious of the limited control I have over The Life and what happens.  If I live with that awareness that all things are temporary and I can't control everything then it's easier to be, to be here and now, in the moment.  This is all I have.  And it's enough.

I came across a hand written page of this link below, 'The Personal Legend' that I had written during the preparations for In My Bed last year.  It really helped me, it helped me to understand that I had to move forward into myself, I had to become who I am without fear and without guilt, and without shame.  It helped me to understand the process of letting go and becoming.  Becoming is one of my favorite concepts, becoming and potential, therein lies all the hope I need.  It's helpful.  I found it helpful anyway.

“Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.” 

- Jean-Paul Sartre

And I've been thinking about freedom and what that means, and what are the consequences of becoming totally free, if that's possible, the idea that one can become totally free in The Life fascinates me but it's huge too, it's vast, it's as simple and as complicated as my perception of living.  One of the more head melting moments of the Project Downsize was when I became aware in a really conscious way that I could do anything I wanted.  I had almost infinite choice, I could do this, I could get rid of everything, I could change my circumstances, I could shift my way of living, I could actually change, in a significant way.  I've been changing incrementally for a very long time, always in a way, and I've consciously worked on certain things and changed specific things at different times over the years, but to know in a new way that I could, in fact I am free, to choose The Life I want to live, freaked me out for a while. I got scared, I got terrified at moments.  I got caught up in complexities and possibilities and a plethora of potential.  

"The essential consequence of our earlier remarks is that man being condemned to be free carries the weight of the whole world on his shoulders; he is responsible for the world and for himself as a way of being."  
-Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness

It was scary to realize that I could change whatever I wanted, that I could do and go and be whatever I wanted.  That I am responsible for the circumstances of my own life, that I am responsible.  I am not subject to any one else, obviously I am living in community with all the other people on the planet, and I have a responsibility to them as part of that community, but in terms of how I choose to be, how I want and need to live my life, I am free to do and be as I want.  The vastness of the possibilities overwhelmed me for a while, and I was sick too and lying in bed I mulled over many many things, many aspects of my life so far and the choices I'd made and the ramifications of those choices, decisions I made relatively blind, or out of fear.  Decisions that still resonate in my life today.  The most substantial one on a practical level is buying the house. 

Twelve years ago, September 2000, I moved in.  Twelve years.  A complete cycle.  
It's a good time to change.
Here & Now.
Beginning again x

sometimes a ritual is needed...

she asks me
what does the ritual entail?
back at the beginning
of the year ending
and I begin to try
to articulate
what it is
I do
this happens a lot
she asks me a question
and I try to find an answer
to satisfy her interest
and it helps me
to become clear
to understand
what it is
I do
and why

I begin to mull on it
then try to write it down
so I can figure it out
a response suitable
a response accurate
a truth I can convey
a truth I feel but find difficult
to speak of

I begin to write
the ritual entails...
and piece together
from the beginning
a series of actions
a series of practices
that I have come to use
for various reasons
from various sources
over time spent alone
time spent in hope
time spent seeking
a connection
and finding it
seeking to make it stronger
freely available
at all times

the ritual entails
generating that connection
to The Universe
through various means
not scientific
but visceral
a feeling of an action

resonating with energy
a specific form of

The Love

actions and practices
that have become ingrained
over time

that seem to help
that do help
though I can't prove it
and I don't need to
because I know
in The Knowing way
that the ritual helps

the ritual is an action
that has the energy
and perpetuates the energy
of The Love

it exists in different forms
at different times
in different guises
it speaks to different questions
and dilemmas
sometimes it solidifies
makes whole a shattered part
sometimes fills the gap between
something that was known only a little
now known more fully

the ritual sets the intention
at times
setting out the hope
for a change
an understanding
a longing
in an active
devoid of fear or regret
or any sense of futility
in the action the intention
is set
then the outcome
becomes transformed already
regardless of the details
of what happens next
in the action
there is space for
the truth of the intention
to live
to come to life and live
because sometimes the
rational mind can only see
the rational
and limits the parameters
of the potential
the ritual bypasses this
while not reneging

at times a response
to change is needed
a response akin to
an offering
or a marking of a shift
in perspective
in understanding
of The Life
to articulate
or even before
to acknowledge
that something is different now
something has changed
and it needs to be marked
the ritual then is a
a means to bare witness
a mutual witnessing
The Universe and I

sometimes the ritual
is about letting go
this one is about letting go
old school
letting go
lighting the papers
watching them burn
saying goodbye
the past gone
nothing new there
it always was
never is
in the ritual
flames take it all away
take it away
it lands in a way
that no amount of
talking about it
ever could
no amount
of writing it out
or sharing
ever could
watching the fire
adding papers to it
wishing them all well
as it burns
transformation of matter
from solid to dust
blown away into the ether
dust into smoke
smoke into air
and all the past is there
and watching I can say goodbye
to the things I need to say goodbye to
to the things I'm conscious of
and the things I'm not
but are happening anyway
inside me
outside me too
and in the watching
I bare witness to all
that went before
in deed and thought
and expectation
and imaginings
and I say goodbye
let go
let it go

not everything needs to be burned
but some things absolutely do
held for too long
in boxes and bags
gathering dead dust
they need to be fired up
aired out
sent out into the world
they need to transform
into a new state
a new
way of being
find a new form

and in the action
in the watching
in the ritual
something is changed
that can't be changed
in any other way
I don't know why
but it's true

for me
it's true

Saturday, August 18, 2012

'Project Downsize: all that signified me' almost complete.

Every day I walk into The Unknown towards The Universe...

Two bags to Oxfam Book Shop, Parliament Street the artistic and philosophical starting point for HERE & NOW.  
It's easier to do that without a jumble of stuff weighing me down, physically and metaphysically.  It's been a process of letting go repeatedly, picking things up, assessing each and every one, did someone give it to me? Why is this object so important to me that I've kept it here, either on display in my house or placed carefully out of sight?  
Why is it important to me, why can I not bare to part with it?  How am I going to let it go?  

Fringe HQ - new library
Gifting then becomes really important.  And gifting is not just about passing on things that I can't bare to let go into the world.  It's about sharing things with people that they will actually use, that they will get joy from but most importantly USE

Books, mostly plays, masks &
resources to Dublin Youth Theatre
Project Downsize is about ABUNDANCE, and there is no waste in Abundance, it means enough for everyone.  So, to gift the things that others will use and derive joy from to the people who best suit each one.  It requires thought, and then action.  Gifting is also about telling the people why I'm gifting a particular object to them and what they mean to me, and a lot of that is private, between me and each person, not that it's a secret, but that it is private.  

It amazes me how much stuff I've accumulated over a short period of time, this is a lifestyle adjustment as much as a practical task.  
It's a shift in mindset, from things being precious and important to only having things that are useful and necessary for The Life today.  It's about letting things go out into the world to be used and enjoyed properly, not sitting in a house in an effort to prove the value of my existence.
Bag to my brother with Gran's painting

Proof of a life was largely why I kept these things. 
Particularly my ticket stubs and theatre programs. There was a time in my life when I needed to look at the ticket stubs to prove I had a life, that I was having fun, that I was making progress in the social world, that I had been there, that I hadn't missed it, that I had shared time and space with other people, that I existed.  I needed to know, I needed to prove this to myself.  So I kept every ticket stub, every piece of paper that was significant to me, little notes that people gave me, every card I received, every letter.  All to prove my life to myself.  I have a ticket stub, I was there, therefore I am....

I am.
Without the need to prove it.
I simply am.
I Am.

Bag to my uncle including models
This is not just about material possessions and letting them go.  This is about shifting perspectives and a redefining of values.  This is about valuing the really important aspects of The Life.  People are the only thing I can't replace.  I learned that when my friend died.  I'd lost people before but when she died, suddenly and 'before her time' it really landed with me that the only thing you can't replace in The Life are people.
Everything else is replaceable, exchangeable, a human being that touched my soul can never be replaced. 

And through the process of this downsizing something else really landed with me.  Nothing is irreversible except death.  Every thing else can be changed, repaired, worked on and made new.  Never the same perhaps but everything has the potential for beginning again, except in The Life, death.  I don't know what happens after, so I'm only speaking of this life, The Life as I know it now.  And I already had an understanding of everything being temporary, but I'm learning it more and more, everything is temporary, nothing lasts forever and that helps with the letting go.

Bags to my Mother, including
Brother electric typewriter

The Letting go is never easy.  It's not just the object, it's what it signified.  It signified me.  Me. Not I am.
It was who I was.  Each and every item signified an aspect of me.  It represented an aspect of my character, a phase of my life, a relationship to another human being, a link to the past, an entanglement of the present, an archive of existence.

But what I am learning is that these things while they resonate all of the above and more probably, are not necessary to The Life lived in The Love.  
The Love is the intrinsic value I need to prioritize.  
The more I stay in The Love in The Life the better I Am.  The more real my relationships are, the more I can contribute in The Life, the more I can be here and now, 'ici et maintenant, I have no future, I have no past, just here and now.'  

The more I am here and now, the more real my relating to others is, the more
genuine my relationships, the exchanges with others. 
And for me now, that's whats important.  

Random Charity, Grans Chair to my sisters
And I am learning more and more who I am.  Without the need for proof.  The proof is in living, living within the uncertainty, The Unknown, because ultimately that is the reality of The Life.  

Random Charity Bags
In the epilogue of In My Bed I stated "I don't need walls, the security is in my soul". And while I did mean it then, I wasn't quite living it.  I was stating it in order to move towards it perhaps.  I said a lot of things then, and I still believe, in fact I believe more now, that people need to say their things, I believe that there is a release there, a freedom from the shame of carrying secrets, most of which, most of the things I carried secretly anyway, were not mine, I carried other people's and made it my own, shame works like that I feel.  
Internalising the actions of others carrying the darkness, making it part of my story and acting from that place.  It's a difficult process to separate out what's mine and what's theirs, but it's worth it. To finally recognize it, what's really mine, and what was never mine and LET IT GO.  
It's hard partly because it's The Unknown.  Who will I be without this stuff I've been carrying?  Who will I be if I'm not in the shame?  What will I do without it?  What excuse will I have then for not being totally free?  Movement towards total freedom is always the super objective of The Life now.  But there's a fear attached to that, there's fear in having total freedom.  And I am learning that through Project Downsize too.  If nothing is impossible...what then?! 

So, I don't need walls the security is in my soul...Project Downsize is testing the boundaries of this!  My boundaries.  And it's not quite complete, though in the final phase now.  
Blue boxes to store at my brothers
& family original artwork
I gifted my books first.  I had to.  Because in a way I was most attached to them.  They represented quite a lot.  They signified my intelligence, proved my intelligence!  In a way! Books I bought in college, books I bought in London, academic books that I learned to understand, slowly.  That opened up new theories or articulated theories I already felt intuitively but gave me a basis for understanding and expanding.  Books people gave me marking special events in my life.  Books I haven't read yet but wanted to.  Books displayed in my house that prove I can read!?!! Not quite!  But displayed, comforted me, made me less lonely.  Made it possible to live in another world for a while, the world of the writer, a world not my own.  Opening up alternatives, teaching me things.  And self help books too! Quite a few over the years! For various ailments, mostly emotional, mostly a means to understand things I had no other means to unravel.  And each worked in its own way, at a time when I had no other outlet, no other point of contact, isolated in the fear of something too shameful to discuss with a human being.  And that's okay, that's what I needed then.  And I may need it again! 
I gifted the first book individually, a book that had been given to me when I really needed it.  'The Road Less Travelled'.  On the street in Rathmines in 1996, when I was really fucked up mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, I met a friend of a friend, I think I'd met her once before, and I don't know what I said to her but she seemed to sense instinctively that I needed to read this book.  And she took me up to her little flat off the main road and gifted it to me.  And I read it and it helped.  And I passed it on a few times, and then one of my best friends bought me another copy to keep for myself.  And that's what I gifted, to a very lovely person, with a beautiful soul, who I felt might enjoy it now.  That was the first gifting.  

'In My Bed' stuff at my sisters
I gifted my Artaud books to my Artaud buddy, someone who would value them as much as I...poor Artaud x

And then I sorted the rest into sections, Dublin Youth Theatre, Fringe HQ for the new library, Oxfam book shop, books back to my uncle, books to my good friend, a couple for my sister.  And I did it.  I gave them all away.  I let them all go. Well, I kept a few that I am currently using for this and another project.  But other than that, they are gone, out into the world to be used, enjoyed, not wasted sitting on a shelf. 

I had every card and letter I received too, gone!  To recycling!
I had photographs from forever which I gifted to my Mother, she really likes photographs! 
I also had, and still have  few bits belonging to other people that need to be returned.
I had bits of paper, scraps of writing from when I was 14 on, some of which I scanned or photographed, then recycled or burned.
I had to burn some things, some things needed to be burned, sometimes a ritual is necessary. 

what's left, not quite in a rucksack yet!
Gifting continues.
Then the gifting continued, and continues.  I still have some things to gift to people, and bags to go to charity, and two boxes of my notebooks which I need to keep, and my brother is going to mind, and the stuff for 'In My Bed' which I need for future shows, which I will store at my sister's.

I have some shredding of old papers to do next week, and three bags of theatre programmes to bring into ITI for the archive hopefully that I need to deliver next week, then other than the gifting, Project Downsize is complete, and I am left with only what I need to be alive here and now...

So, not quite my life in a rucksack yet, but almost, almost there.