06 March 2012

I get it. The journey is hard, and the metaphor of the hero's journey is intuitively wise and breathtaking. But why place that journey in a category above others? Why not say: this is the work we must do if we choose our own authenticity? Not as heroes, but as lovers of soul's truth. -- Lisa Ward, Pondering on the Path (http://ponderingonthepath.blogspot.com/)

I straightened up today. Lots of sorting of papers and pictures that I’ve accumulated on the dining room table. Still a pile there but must less of one. Then I sorted photo albums and made up some boxes to ship out to my siblings and sister-in-law. I had had bigger plans with the pictures of my family of origin after my mother died in 2009. I thought to organize a digital photo array with that started with my parents’ earliest days, though our childhood, up until my parents deaths. But that was when I was only custodian of one family’s pictures. One plus my grandmother's pictures which were never organized. But David had custody of his family’s pictures, and we both had many pictures of our own. In this sorting that I have been doing for months now, I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of family history that I had in my possession and no idea how to wrangle it. And so, instead of delaying longer, I am getting some of it out of my house and into someone else’s house.

I've save some pictures of David's early life and pictures of his parents and grandparents, but there are so many shots of people that I don’t know. So many pictures of family vacations destinations, parties, weddings, celebrations that belong much more to his sister than to me. It is a bit different with my parents’ pictures. I know who is in the pictures, but what do I do with their pictures of Italy in 1978 or the cruise of 1975 or the anniversary party and grandchildren’s happy faces. And all of the pictures of my niece, Jennifer, who my parents raised after my sister left. Too many pictures of events that I was not a part of, or in which I played such a minor part so as not to really count. I will send them off to those who played bigger roles.

This process of letting go what has accumulated has its own tempo. Step, step, glide. Tomorrow, the post office. I was in a fury as I packed up the four boxes late in the day. Now, as I contemplate mailing them tomorrow, a sense of clarity and calms comes over me. Yes, I do have trouble letting go of all of this history, whether it is mine or someone else’s history, but I do not want to be carrier of history that is not mine and rightly belongs to others. Truth be told, I am worried that “they” will not take good care of it, but for that I cannot be responsible. I need to keep what is mine and release what is not. What would I have been like if I devoted my life to history? I can clearly see how a twist or turn could have landed me there, but would I be hoarding piles of documents in my files? Would I have been the librarian twisting my mouth in critisiam as I stood over researchers who touch too roughly or without gloves the histories of cities or courts or organizations? I don't think I could have become a moderate historian. I could easily believe that I kept histories in a former life. It comes so easily to me.

The straightening up extended outward. I picked up in the house and then vacuumed and washed floors. So much of the materials that I am sort is dusty. I feel the constant need to wash my hands before touching anything clean. By association, the house feels dusty and musty. I am dying to open windows and let the fresh air in. Today’s temperatures temped me to do so and tomorrow is it does reach the 50’s, the urge may become irresistible.

Every so often, Julia pokes at my stuff. She is deeply offended when I trash kid art, even when it is not hers. She is very interested in old jewelry and the old jewelry boxes that I was thinking of throwing away. I will make up my childhood jewelry box for her and put in all sorts of necklaces and bracelets and earrings for her to play with. Although most girls would be putting it all on themselves, I am sure to see dinosaurs with my old precious gems.

Julia saw the picture of herself playing her recorder. She commented that she was paying attention and I told her how proud she made me. She told me she had to work hard to play her recorder and I gave her a big hug. Julia knows that she did a good thing last Friday. She wanted me to be happy and proud. I hope that she is inspired to do her best at every opportunity.

Maybe she is not perfectly attached, but I am important to her and I think the mommy voice is getting inside of her.

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