Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Basement cat time travels to the 80's

That soundtrack in my head has a very 80's feel to it right now. I have finally settled down to sort through the clutter in my basement. It's a much harder task than I thought, but not for the reasons I suspected. I figured that the actual decision-making process would be the thing to trip me up. My slightly ADD brain can't always fit objects into the usual suggested categories of keep/toss/undecided. It always comes up with shades in between. Like, Keep-but-need-to-fix-first or Hang-up-on-the-wall-when-I-find-a-frame or Put-on-knicknack-shelf-when-I-actually-put-it-up. My logical husband is really good at simple categorizations, but this is my stuff. I need to sort it. And so, while that is a bit of the problem, it isn't the whole.

The main problem is that when you sort through really old clutter, much of which consists of childhood memorabilia and college books/stuff it isn't just simple sorting. It's opening up your subconscious and diving in headfirst. If the unexamined life is not worth living, well, mine should be very worthy right about now. At this point it's impossible to *stop* examining it. Every book, every toy, every award, every bit of the flotsam and jetsam of my life is a key in the memory lock of my brain. Every success and failure, every bad habit and old thought pattern, things I've put behind me and things I only thought I had - it all comes floating to the surface in this process. Nobody told me I was going to need a therapist when I was done. I guess part of me knew this, which is why it got put off for so long.

There is something very spiritual about it. Though it vacillates between the utter relief of baggage unloaded and the utter pain of feeling like I've ripped the bandage off wounded places in my soul. It's cleansing, but also tiring beyond belief. And it's more than a little unsettling to realized how much and in which ways I've changed as a person over the years. It's a liquid diet cleanse of the spirit, and about as much fun to live through. And since regular day-to-day life doesn't stop in order for me to do this my life has taken on an odd sort of Time Traveler's Wife quality. One moment I'm lost back in 1982 and the next flung forward into 2013 when my daughter calls out with a question or I have to go referee yet another sibling fight.

It's not making the whole dark-night-of-the-soul any easier either. Especially since my spiritual journey is extremely evident in every inch of what I'm sorting. Books that I remember running out to buy in hopes they would help me solve a spiritual question or conundrum. Classes that uplifted, and ones that made me half ill (found my college dissection kit). The realization hits hard that even one's deeply held spiritual beliefs and sense of self are not permanent, but rather fluid. Buffeted by hardship and bolstered by culture, what we think of as "ours" is much less "us" and more often a reflection of our times and circumstance. It's like finding out that gravity isn't actually permanent. That the center doesn't always hold.

This whole process is hard to convey in the context of our sound byte, need-to-know-yesterday technology infused society. I don't have the brain power to process the past and contemplate the future simultaneously. I've opened Pandora's box and I'm stuck in the very uncomfortable Now. It's weird seeing in my mind's eye the memory frames of my life slipping into place - like that part in every movie where the main character finally figures out what's going on and what needs to be done, buoyed up by suitably noble or desperately depressing music (depending on genre).

I am getting an amusing look at culture, though. That's an unexpected plus. Seeing what ideas have lasted, what trends have continued, and what ones died an untimely death (and others that should have). Amusing myself by actually listening to the music of my childhood while I work. Realizing that as much as I loved Air Supply in middle school they really were quite terrible. And that as much as I used to tease my husband about his sometimes depressing music choices that much of *his* music has stood the test of time. Seeing through the lens of the culture I grew up in how much I've changed and deepened as a person. How I get from the inside out that conversation from Doctor Who's "Blink" between Sally Sparrow and her friend:

Sally Sparrow: "I like old things; they make me feel sad."
Kathy Nightingale: "What's good about sad?"
Sally Sparrow: "It's happy, for deep people."

So, if anyone needs me for the next month or so, I'll be in my basement, listening to bad pop music and good classic rock, putting the pieces of my life in perspective before the next leg of the journey begins.

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