Sunday, December 11, 2011
Pockets of insight
Due to the generosity of a co-worker who gave me a gift certificate as a belated birthday present, I bought a new purse last month. It looks similar to the photo above.
Now, I've always had a difficult and frustrating time when I buy a purse. I usually only have one purse at a time, so it has to be multifunctional. That day, I stood around Penney's for a good hour examining purses. In the first place, although it didn't have to be gorgeous, I certainly didn't want to wince when I looked at it every day. It had to go with my wardrobe. And as superficial as it sounds, it had to reflect a little bit of my personality, as a visible expression to the world of what kind of person I am (as most wardrobe items tend to do). Most importantly, it had to hold the important things, and it had to have a few pockets that were necessary for me - specific pockets designated for specific things - a pocket for my keys, a pocket for my cell phone, and a pocket for my work ID badge. These pockets had to be secure, because I throw my purse around a lot and don't want anything important falling out. And then to top it off, the whole purse had to fasten securely so nothing could fall out the top. It couldn't be too small or too big, and it couldn't be too heavy. There is only limited room in a purse, so one has to be picky about what goes inside and where everything goes. If I decide to carry a calendar book, I might not have room for my bulky coupon holder. I have to make choices, as I can't carry everything. All this makes purse shopping a very frustrating and time-consuming experience for me.
As the year comes to a close, I thought about this in relation to my life. I only have 24 hours in a day - my time is limited just like my purse space. All the emotions that I carry, some justly, some out of habit, some for no discernible reason, have to be carried by me at once. All the negative things that eat away at my psyche - guilt, shame, regret, anxiety, envy, feelings of revenge, anger - take up space where I could be carrying love, compassion, forgiveness and patience. Every part of my brain that harbors the negative emotions just pushes out the positive emotions. Every minute of the day I spend in worry is a minute I don't spend in contentment.
I've heard in simplicity circles that one of the best ways to embrace simplicity is to limit what you buy: For everything you bring into the house (or closet, etc.), you should get rid of something you currently own. I've also been told that the key to organizational contentment is "a place for everything, and everything in its place."
I think for 2012, my goal is to walk as many negative emotions out the door as I can and usher in the positive ones. Just like how I get picky about choosing a purse, I want to be more selective about the feelings that I choose to carry with me day in and day out. I do believe in a place for everything and everything in its place - and the place for those corrosive, energy-draining feelings is certainly not in my vision of what I want for my life. They are not how I would choose to represent myself to the world, and their presence crowds my mind and heart so that I lose sight of what makes life meaningful.
In the end, my purse is just a red pocketed container - a functional accessory to enable me to carry around other physical items in a convenient way. I can find one I like, and use it until it no longer serves my needs, then I can replace it. But this one life is all I've got, and I want to use it to carry ideals that are important to me, ideals that will sustain me, nourish me, and get me through the hard times. If that means clearing some damaging things out to make room for some new healing ones, then so be it. I think we all deserve no less.