–by Neal Lemery
It was a day to clean out a closet, to purge old clothes I hadn’t worn for ages, to remove items I no longer used, to literally clean house.
Soon, bare hangers and a full garbage bag resulted, even the basket of newspapers was in the car, ready for the recycling truck in town. The closet now had room to breathe, and the washer was making some old, dusty clothes ready to be used again, at the front end of the closet.
It was like a shopping spree, with old friends, friends who had gotten misplaced, forgotten. Yet, room to breathe, too. Lighter. A good feeling, freeing myself from some clutter in my life.
With the car full of treasures I no longer wanted, I headed off to the recycling truck, leaving a month’s worth of old news behind. The quiet whoosh of piles of newspaper sliding into the town’s mound of last month’s news mixed with the steady rain that had moved in, another sense of cleansing, renewing.
The second hand store guy eagerly helped me unload the box of old vases, bottles, and lamps, and my garbage bag of clothes.
“This will really help us out,” he said. “We were getting low on men’s clothes. And, this pair of boots will help someone get ready for a job.”
He didn’t mention the other bag, filled with about three dozen ties. I’d kept a half dozen of my favorites, ones I might wear to a wedding, or for a special evening out. But, ties were part of my old work life, and whatever lay ahead didn’t include a huge selection of neck nooses. All those ties would fit in better in the men’s section of the thrift store, and out of my closet.
My cleaning and purging project was gaining steam. It was a part of being alive in my community, making a contribution, being of service. I drove away feeling tieless and unburdened.
The second hand store would be making some money off of my cleaning project. And, the truckload of newspapers would be sold soon, putting money into the hands of a local service club, and spent on scholarships for kids’ field trips, or feeding the hungry, or some other project that needed some cash.
My next stop was all about me. It was time for a visit with my acupuncturist, some “me time”, part of my inside work this month, getting me settled down and moving on with the next step in my life.
“Retired”, that is my status, I guess. It is what people ask me about, in the grocery store line, or at the post office. For me, it is a renewal, and a time of self exploration, the next phase in life.
I am not idle, and I do have a new schedule. For once in my life, what others want of my time is not much of a priority, and “empty” days are filled up nicely, thank you very much. Including this day, this day of cleaning and purging, and time with the acupuncturist. This renewal work is right on schedule.
Already, eating better, without sugar, exercising vigorously most every day, spending more time with my music and nature, even some good hours on the river bank, fishing for more than just the elusive steelhead on a sunny, cold January day, were already making my jeans a big baggier, and giving me deeper sleep.
Yet, I’m a work in progress, and I still need to put one foot in front of the other, and move ahead with my life, cleaning out my closets, in every sense.
Soon, I was lying down in a warm and dimly lit room, as the acupuncturist did her magic, finding just the right places to stimulate some of my pressure points, and move my energy around, cleansing, renewing, reinvigorating.
The Chinese call it “Qi” or “chi”, the universal life energy force that flows within all of us, the foundation of all of our creativity, and our very essence of being.
Western thinking would want me to analyze it, measure it, describe it, and test out various theories of what is and what it does. And, my analytical mind is drawn to such work.
Yet, instinctively, I don’t go there. This is something to simply acknowledge, to honor its existence in myself, as a fundamental, essential aspect of my very being, and be accepting. I need to put my Western mind into idle, and simply lie here on this table, in this warm and safe room, and be.
Now, I need to remind myself that I am a human being, not a human “doing”. This is not the time or the place to “do”, but, instead, to just be, be in the moment, to accept this gift, and to let my chi flow. What is, simply is.
This is “me” time, “being” time.
Soon, all the needles are in place, stimulating and opening up gateways and paths. I feel the current of energy flow through my body, along all the paths. This is dynamic, the current and the sense I get from all of this changing, moving, within me, and of me.
I breathe in and out, feeling the leaving from me of things I no longer want, “stuff” that is cluttering me up. Darkness and crud and the dust bunnies of my internal being leave me, in each breath, in each awareness I have of the chi circulating within me.
Soft Chinese music plays in the background, something I am sometimes aware of, and sometimes not. The real music is in this flow of energy, and in the breathing in and out.
This is closet cleaning work, too, getting rid of the old newspapers and unworn clothes cluttering up my life, and my soul. All that “stuff” is going elsewhere. I am done with it, and moving on, carrying a lesser burden.
I lie here in a halfway world, half awake, half somewhere else not of this world, the music and my breathing and the sense of this flow of energy being my metronome for this space I am in.
Purging, cleaning, throwing away, putting in order, getting lighter; this is my task for this day.