wound

Well, the wounds to my hand are healing. It is less painful and a change of dressing and hand therapy 3 times a week is helping. My body is less sore. I can type with my left hand and the use of my now free right thumb makes it less difficult. The townhouse is still in a pretty shambolic state with boxes and paintings and stuff all over the place. How I would love to just sort it out once and for all!

The existential questions that have come up for me are not: ‘Why me dear Lord?’ Or, “What have I done to deserve this?”.

The questions that I am dealing with right now as I heal, concern ‘impermanence‘ and ‘developing patience’.

I know that one of the Buddhist tenets is the impermanence of lives and things. I am not even considering my own life (miraculously spared) for the purposes of this blog post; rather, I am facing the necessity of addressing ‘impermanence’.

I am faced with tossing things out – permanently. Much has already been given away – furniture, curtains, household goods, clothing, endless other things I was ruthless about in my desire to simplify before the final move to the townhouse.

But what to do with my late father’s school and university reports; writings of my late mother’s; my own; photographs; correspondence –  consign them to non-existence? What does this mean if I do this? Have their records served their purpose and now I must let go my attachment to them? I know that I will not be invalidating my parents or myself if I destroy what was once theirs and mine … but still … photographs of grandparents? Records of my parents service in WW2? All that history, to be no more? Will I ever regret this action if I carry it out? Can I let go of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ as well as on behalf of my parents and ancestors? Can I be dispassionate about this?

And more to the point, is this how it will be when my children consign my ‘stuff’ and my husband’s stuff to the flames or the garbage bags when we die? Will our lives in material form before our deaths be extinct? What will they do with all the family photographs  through the years lovingly kept and only occasionally  looked at? How many collages can I have made? I do not want walls populated with collages; one or two, yes.

I will be pondering this in the days to come.

On developing patience: this is something that fate has decreed upon me it seems to me. I no longer dart here and there, doing everything quickly and efficiently and, as I have come to realise, having a false sense of pride in my ability to do this. I have to go slowly, dress slowly, I eat sitting down. I walk to the offices of the hand therapists and take that time to observe my new surroundings, or contemplate a dream, or just think about nothing.

I know I said earlier that I would just love to get the townhouse sorted once and for all, but I  know that this will take time. I quite like going slow and not being in a rush. There is something of value in this, for me. I have changed my study a few times. I am not rushing it. I still need to unpack boxes and be ruthless in sorting and tidying it. It is winter here in South Africa and though it has been a long time coming, it is now here. Up here on the highveld (2000 m above sea level), it gets bone-chillingly cold although the sun may shine brightly. It is an inward time as Nature rests. I feel in tune with Mother Nature. I think I am developing patience with regard to myself, to me, me-time. I think patience is saying; be kind to yourself, be compassionate, don’t rush… all will be well. I want patience and I to be friends. I want her to show me the way.

Thank you all who have been on this journey with me and your comments and more recently your concerns. It brings a swelling of blood corpuscles somewhere about the heart.

75 Comments on moving home – part 4 – existential questions

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  22. I’ve been reading your tribulations with popping eyes – you were so off-hand (you should pardon the pun) on FB about your accident I thought you’ve just broken a couple of fingers – it also never occurred to me you would still be blogging with ‘broken fingers’ so I am ashamed to say I had missed these blogs. I’ve now signed (again) on the email notification, hope it works this time.

    I chose to comment on this particular blog because, if it’s not too late, I wanted to suggest putting aside all the family documents you had reluctantly decided to discard, and send them for scanning first. My daughter gave me a scanner / printer as a birthday present and although I still haven’t scanned all the photos that have been crammed in drawers and boxes, and see it as a hobby that may last to my eighties, it has meant I could finally start getting rid of stuff. If like you I had tons of family history I would definitely find one of the many places that offer a scanning service?

    I hope you’ve continued to make steady progress since your most recent blog, and look forward to being notified of the next xx

    • Hello Elizabeth and how great to see you here and thank you for stopping by and commenting on my handicap! (I pardon you your pun).

      Yes, we are putting aside stuff for scanning…probably will take forever. But this is the sensible thing to do. And, I’ve just thought of it as I write, the girls at the rooms could do this! I have you to thank for putting this thought my way thank you!

      Thank you for your good wishes. The hand and fingers are coming along thank you! Another 4 months of hand therapy 3 x a week (and a much diminished bank balance) will probably bring my hand back to reasonable functionality.

  23. I think it’s important to keep those connections to the past. Why, I can’t really explain, but it just feels wrong to erase those connections, since they form part of who we are and who the next generations will be.

    Best of luck with your therapy.

    • Thank you Misha! Checked out your recent post and good luck with your paying it forward! Ambitious indeed – you will do great!

  24. I’m glad you’re healing, Susan.
    Sorting through things, deciding what to keep and what not to, it’s a highly personal and sometimes painful process. I try to only keep what holds emotional value, but of course, determining that is another matter. You’ll make the best decision, I’m sure.
    This is when technology helps. As with books, for example. I donated piles to my library, now that I have a Kindle. Thought I’d miss them terribly, but seems I’m getting on just fine. 🙂
    Lovely post, as usual. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sylvia, thanks so much for your response. I’ll be going for the digital process – too many have said about regrets of getting rid of stuff. Once done, it seems that just a few days later there is a need for whatever it was that was gotten rid of.

      I too donate bags of books to the library every now and then (and have been known to buy back my own donated book when I see it on their monthly sales).

      I am getting there with the hand therapy.. pins/wires in two fingers will come out next week under anesthetic . Am hoping this will free my fingers somewhat and I won’t have to do left hand typing that takes forever!

      Have a GREAT weekend! 🙂

  25. Hi,
    Impermanence and patience, two things that we all have to face and how painful it is when we get to the point when we can no longer avoid it. Most of the time, we are forced through an accident or through some kind of mishap to deal with impermanence and patience.

    Recently, I have been dealing with the same things. To realize that nothing on this earth is eternal and that nothing that I accumulate can go into eternity with me was quite a shock, even though I had been mouthing this platitude, since I have discovered my purpose for living.

    So I understand where you are, but I also understand that this is a individual process that you have to go through in order to find the right answers for your life. It is a painful process that cannot be avoided. It frees the soul to expand and gather more wisdom.

    As to patience and slowing down, this year I rediscovered what it means to find peace and patience in solitude. The mere fact of taking the time to sit down and drink a cup of tea or a cup of coffee and listen to the sounds of nature going on around me has become important. My desire to write articles that are essential and life changing and not just to impress or write because everyone else is doing it, has become the center point of my life again. That is a good feeling because I find myself writing with a patience that I had not had before.

    So, I hope your learning to slow down and treasure the moments in whatever you are doing continue.

    The legacy of what we leave behind is not wrapped up in things but in memories of love, sharing and trust that no object can replace.

    Shalom,
    Patricia

    • Patricia, thank you so much! A thoughtful and inspiring response to my blog and I will keep with me what you said.

      It is strange that it is oftentimes a mishap that brings one to a change of perspective as it has done with me, albeit that it was forced. I am taking time to slow down and it sits well with me. I look out at my pretty garden as I write to you and I know that this is a treasure and give thanks for it and all that is. In a way it is like finding my centre again as you said about yourself in your comment.

      Also, we mouth those platitudes about no object goes with one when we die; and then we realise what those words actually mean and shift our gaze yet again .. ‘The legacy of what we leave behind is not wrapped up in things but in memories of love, sharing and trust that no object can replace’.

      Thank you dear Patricia,

      Shalom.

  26. Though I missed one part in between so I couldn’t make that how you got injured. Anyways pay proper attention to your wounds and I am quite happy to know about that you have maintained a lot of patience which is quite difficult for most of the people around. I really wish a smooth going for you.

    • Thanks Natalie for your comment and advice re the wounds and your good wishes. I appreciate this very much. The one about the car accident was the previous one…

  27. I am so deeply sorry that I’ve been too wrapped up to visit with you. Please know that I’ve been thinking about you and hoping that your healing is progressing *inside and out* and that you’ll regain full use of your hand very soon:)

    As for material keepsakes–try to scan important documents and photos, take pictures of artwork/ items that are close to your heart, but cannot keep. This way you can store everything digitally *as we already do in our heart as emotions and minds as memories*

    It is in the hearts and minds of others that we live long after our time has passed…even materials cannot embody our essence like memories do. You can lose an item without losing it’s meaning…

    I keep inviting patience over for coffee, but she seldom stays long:)

    • So terrific of you to stop by Sam thank you so much! Thank heavens for the amazing technology that we have that enables us to digitally store stuff. I’m realizing more and more how to use this to advantage and underscores this for me when you say so too.

      How well you express about memories…those do contain the essence and meaning, which cannot be lost.

  28. This is my first visit to your blog and I can see that I’m going to have to spend some time here to sort things out, but I wanted to comment on this post because what you write about is exactly what I have been going through the last six months. I am the appointed family historian, probably due to my interest in genealogy from years ago, so I ended up with all the memorabilia when my parents died. I don’t have to tell you about this, I can see. I also wondered what to keep, what to discard. It’s hard to throw something away that Mom or Dad felt was important enough to keep for 50 or 60 years.

    I threw some things away, but I kept a lot. Probably more than I need to. I just felt that as years pass I may be able to do more culling out and throwing away. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

    I ended up with four thick photo albums/scrapbooks of my parents’ photos, certificates, military documents, etc. As a genealogist, I would caution you against throwing away any kind of official documents. If you’re not interested, someone else may be (and I don’t know your family circumstances) . If not now, maybe later. Pick the most important things and put them in a box.

    That being said. I plan to tell my children to throw the whole lot out if they want once I’m gone. I don’t want them to feel burdened by any of it.

    Now I’m off to do some more reading.

    • Christine, how nice of you to stop by thank you! And also for sharing how you have ‘dealt’ with things. I selected photos from boxes and boxes of them and a friend will make a large collage; the other zillions of photos I plan to have large photo albums made. The ‘box’, with documents … I agree to not discard!

      ‘It’s hard to throw something away that Mom or Dad felt was important enough to keep for 50 or 60 years’… as you say and I so agree!

      The kids can toss out when the time comes, if they so choose!

  29. Susan, I’m so very sorry to hear about your accident. It sounds awful. I hope you are feeling a lot better. I’ve only just seen your post. Be kind to yourself, rest and heal. The unpacking and everything else will wait. Take care of you first. God Bless!

    • Sharon, thank you so much. Slowly it is healing, pins or K wires will be staying in for quite a while longer in my fingers. Hand therapy is a great help and every time they are pleased at the progress.
      Thank you so much for your concern. I so appreciate this. G.d bless you!

  30. That’s great… Moving is exciting as well as stressful. I have read your previous post and really happy to read this next part. You have told a lot on moving. I would just like a big thanks to you for sharing your experience.

  31. Perhaps rather than holding on to the physical items, you could scan them into a digital format? That is, if you want to keep some record of them. And I wonder if a local historical society or library might want some of them.

    • A great idea Liz thank you! I have been sort of thinking along those lines. Will send bunches down to my son Mike with my husband when he goes on Wednesday. Perhaps he can put them in Dropbox or something. Some I will keep in physical form.

  32. Well, it’s taken me a while to get here to read your post, Susan. Patience: I knew I’d get here, but first needed to take care of the business of promoting my writing for pay.

    I like Mike’s comment here — imploring you to not get rid of everything. I would like to hear that from my child, my daughter, and then, hopefully, my granddaughters, still school age without thoughts of family history yet. My stepmom is our family historian, keeping photos of all the ancestors, many displayed in a wall gallery. So often I have stood before them — my grandparents and great grandparents — and pondered them, pondered those who are a part of me, in my genes. I am so glad to see them, to have this connection. Somehow, when I see them, they speak to me.

    For the past year I have entertained these same thoughts as you — impermanence, what does it all mean? Who in my family wants all this stuff dumped on them — my writing files, books, family photos? –And all my mother’s things, and her mother’s? Should I just dump them? As I wrote in my most recent blog post, I am comforted by nostalgia, glad to know that some of these belongings give substance to our lives, despite the impermanence. I have given all of my belongings away in the past, and later felt I had leaped into space, with no grounding. So, now I can view both sides of this choice. I have come to the conclusion that there’s a middle way. I must be ruthless, callous about disposing of some things, but need to keep with me what’s me — what I’ve written, the family photos. Besides, I do believe in the importance of lessons of history; and these provide that for me and hopefully will for my offspring.

    Anyway, you have gone through a lot, Susan, in the past months. It takes a strong person indeed to undergo what you have, and to observe it, process it and derive meaning from it.

    As always, you set an example for me. Thanks for writing this series of moving posts on moving. Don’t dispose of them quite yet. 🙂

    Love, Samantha

    • Thank you so much Samantha for your thoughtful response.

      Nostalgia .. I too think it is necessary for a healthy psyche.

      This is a lovely image of you standing before the wall gallery of ancestors. This is what I am planning – a collage or two.

      I am wondering about how much ego is involved in keeping all our stuff and I am saying this without diminishing ego for which I have great respect. When ego and self confront each other there is always conflict, a battle, as the ego does NOT want to let go. It wants to retain its supremacy and wants to at least keep things the way they are. This is a thought that I am developing vis a vis myself as I try to see what to keep and what to toss. I don’t want to toss a lot of stuff but I may just. The poor old husband is in a battle de luxe re: his things.

      Thank you again,

      Love

      Susan

  33. You have raised an issue that I have faced at times in my past and continue to deal with. I’m trying to cull through all that I have in order to downsize. I tend to collect things and it always becomes such a quandary about what to get rid of. The last things to stay are always the personal keepsakes. Those things can’t be replaced, but the question of value always remains.

    Moving can really put things into perspective. I don’t know if or when I’ll ever move again, but I’d like to start preparing for it now by doing some housecleaning.

    Good luck with yours.

    Lee
    A Faraway View

    • Thanks so much Lee for stopping by and for your good wishes! And good luck to you for house-cleaning – it may allow even more energies to flow.

  34. It seems to take patience to deal with impermanence. The things of the past are hard to let go of because they have meaning and also because they represent our own passing into the impermanence that we are. Even the healing of your cells is based on the impermanence of the wounds and the impermanence of the finally healed. The paradox is contained in all the stages of life but seems magnified by the wounds and losses now. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much Susan. Such a complex concept, beautifully and simply expressed. You captured the essence of it so wonderfully and I am deeply grateful. Magnified now and necessary.

  35. Sis, I’m happy you are starting to feel better, and that you are able to walk a little distance now.

    The impermanence of parents’ and grandparents’ photographs and the few possessions I too have, has been a problem for me, as my children don’t seem to be keen on them. Also, I don’t want to leave “stuff” for them to have to get rid of after I have left this earthly state. Nor do I want Norris to have to get rid of it, as it means nothing to him. It seems I am the only one in my family who finds it difficult to part with memories and attachments to the parents.

    So, do I bury them in my garden, burn them? Have a little ceremony under my “Mother and Father Trees” (as Sledge my dear gardener called them) – knowing that I won’t be living here in this big house for too many years to come. It is a decision that must be made.

    Michael’s request that you not destroy your papers and photographs brought one or two tears to my eyelets……….Good on the dear young man.

    See you soon.

    By the way, I do hope that you have now learned to floss, as has been suggested, and maintained your dignity along the way

    • Thank you dear Sis!

      When you are here next week, we can do ONE album of us as children and the parents. Just our family and an ancestor or 3 .. and on your side, burn and bury and bye bye is good under the Mother Father trees. We can burn while you’re here Dad’s beautiful white graduation fur from Oxford. It’s only 80 years old …

      Bring extra suitcase – large – for things I have put aside for you.

      So looking forward to feet and nail treatment, floss treatment etc by your expert hands..

    • Dear Sis, what happened to the reply to my response to yours I wonder. I posted it earlier and now it is not here .. it’s done a disappearing act.

      Thank you for yours … burn bury and say bye bye under the Mother Father trees … when you are here next week we will burn our father’s white fur collar from graduation gear when at Oxford. It is only 80 years old … (anyone out there who has to have it? It is beautiful … and in pristine condition carefully and lovingly kept :)…)

      Not yet attempted flossing with toes. Am waiting for you and also to attend to the toes, they need your expert attention and touch.

      Bring extra large empty suitcase. Have I got stuff for you!

      Anyway, am about to get to tasks and see if I can make more things disappear …

      • Eisshhhh! Will have to start working to find all the photographs etc. Shine up on reflexology applications…….
        Your reply did come through………….

  36. Oh goodness, do I EVER understand your conundrum as to what to do with pictures, writings, etc. I had my great grandfather’s law books. I have some of his speeches as he was a Superior Court Judge for the state of California. I had pictures… the problem…I didn’t know either my great grandparents or grandparents on my mom’s side, so the people didn’t mean anything to me. I have to have a heart connection. I had shown my children the family pictures and they said the same thing… they didn’t want them.

    I think the issue should be dropped in the hands of your sons… DO THEY want these materials? I even have a silver service set that is over 100 years old that I have kept. But I’m not sure the kids want it either as it is not like it will be used. It sits, I polish it and dust it, but does something that has no emotional connection to us mean anything?

    I have cleaned out so much stuff to my mom’s consternation, but if I have no room for the basics what do I do with this other “stuff?” I truly wish you luck with your decisions. I’m walking shoulder to shoulder with you. I loved your post as it concerns some of my own thoughts. One thing… I made some snap judgments and was a bit to hasty with some of my cleaning out… sleep with it for a while and discuss your concerns with your boys.

    I’m so happy to hear that you are healing. Your accident impacted me too, as I wrote a long letter to my kids letting them know how proud of them I am and how loved they are… they both wanted to know if something was wrong with me. 😉 Take care of yourself! Gwynn

    • Thank you so much Gwynn for your understanding! You are so right about ‘…but does something that has no emotional connection to us mean anything?’ And just a thought – is it wise to have emotional connections to ‘things’?

      Mike and Dave had first dibs at everything but they are smart and do NOT want clutter. So, so … today is a quiet day and I will be looking at my stuff today that, although already much trimmed pre move, needs more trimming and sorting – and tossing.

      A big smile from me about your letter to your kids and their wondering whether something was wrong with you! 🙂 🙂

      • Oops, I didn’t mean that I had an emotional attachment to “things” as they are just “things.” I may become emotionally attached because I LOVED the person and they remind me of that person. The other quandary that I have is that there is family history in what my ancestors have accomplished… do I throw history out? However, if it means nothing to anyone, I suppose I should clean it out. At what point do we drop a legacy? I have so many questions as I know my mother was SO ANGRY at me for divesting myself of so many books. But I just didn’t have room for them, and gain more. I’m sure if I throw out more of my family stuff my mom’s ghost will track me down and haunt me for the rest of my life! I’m looking forward to hearing what you decide to do!

        Oh, so you know, the kids know that I’m proud of them and love them… they were concerned why I would write them and put it on paper! 😉

        Love,
        Gwynn

        • May your mother’s ghost NOT haunt you forever after Gwynn! So true about the emotional attachment to things, the meaning of them – as per Susan’s (US) later comment .. do check it out.

          Your kids will no doubt keep that letter you wrote them forever after … elsewise you will haunt them … 🙂

  37. I purged the belongings and collections of my long time home when I moved two years ago. Originally we were to move into a condo which would allow for 25% of the treasured possessions. There are things such as what you talk about – those of sentimental value that I could not part with, even if it meant storing them for a rainy day. Fast forward, having bought a much smaller house which is still big by average standard I have plenty of room and even empty ones! My solution was to purchase two large shelved armoires with doors that close. One houses my movies, photo albums, games and stuff and the other lots of pitchers, candles, linens, crockery… The feeling of a much less crowded space is wonderful and I don’t miss what I chose to part with (except a couple of antique furniture pieces). They all went to good causes – we accumulate way too much and as you suggest – who will want it when we part for greener pastures?
    When your children are older they will pick and choose what has the most sentiment to them and the world will go on in the way it was meant.

    The accident must still have a lingering effect, other than your finger but as you say wounds actually do let the light in. Leonard Cohen’s – Anthem is one of my favourites of all times.

    • Great Mike, will do. Dad will load the trailer with them all, including a zillion albums and bring them down to you next week. Just kidding, will try to do some sorting before this …

      • Susizwe what a great blog. As is so often, you echo my thoughts so eloquently. What does one do with the photos. Perhaps keep one or two from each period and put them in an album for ones children. But which ones and when does one have the time and inclination to do it. I have had the thought for years but the photos are still in overfilled boxes and albums. How many photograph albums of ones children at 6 months old does one need!!!!!!
        And as you know, I learnt patience in the last 2 years, but the impatience does return with a vengeance. London so frustrating for me as I hobble around the shops and tube with Richard bounding in front of me. HE is the patient one!
        See you soon dear friend.
        Lindiwe.

        • Lyndy – Lindiwe – how great to see you here! I like what you say: ‘How many photograph albums of ones children at 6 months old does one need!!!!!!’ But they’re all so precious …

          I will have a few collages made .. and maybe Mike and/or Dave can scan some onto CD? Perhaps you could do this too?

          And yes, you were patient during your frightful illness. As a fellow Gemini I know how hard patience is. You were an excellent lesson in ‘patience’ ..

          See you soon … not a moment too soon.

          Susiswe

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