Rebuilding When Things Lose Meaning
When someone says their head is in the clouds, I think of big cotton balls and bunnies against a bright blue sky, a sort of la-la state of being. But rather than daydreaming or being disconnected from reality, as implied by having one’s head in the clouds, I feel a bit like the clouds are in my head. These are not clouds of sadness or depression or confusion (that’s fog, not clouds), but changing clouds, wordless clouds that move on a current in a general direction.
This is not intended to be enigmatic. It is, I think, the result of ridding my head and my life of so many things which contributed to my drives, passions, and choices. For instance, this is the first time ever that I have not followed political news. I probably knew more about an election as a five-year-old watching the Kennedy/Nixon debate than I do this year, where all I know is that Obama will face Romney. Likewise with many other issues and opinions. It’s neutral. Passions about issues have been replaced by a silent current, as if I am passing through the turmoil and oblivious to how it touches me.
Earth to Meg: where is your focus now? Working on the craft of writing. Continuing to streamline things here at home. Exploring the cloud/brainscape. I’m curious about where it will go. But this is not my time to be involved in things immediately outside of myself, my home life, and my work. The cool thing is that I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it, either. That’s probably a first.
As a Minimalist, I’ve experienced the ironic contradiction of working furiously and determinedly to achieve serenity. There’s all the work involved in decluttering, for starters. Then there’s the withdrawal symptoms to go through when you give up recreational shopping, cable tv, and letting go of your old notions of self when you unload the stuff of past attempts, like unused textbooks, hobby supplies, the guitar and amps, sports equipment, etc. It’s a lot of work to downsize, whether moving from a big house to a small house, or from a cluttered apartment to a backpack. The mind needs a chance to adjust, as do family and friends who are perplexed and wonder if an intervention is needed. And it’s an ongoing process.
Let’s face it: Minimalism is counter-culture here in the US and in many other countries. To do it, to keep on doing it, requires, by definition, a different value system than that of nearly everyone else around you. It’s that difference in values that leads to the really big life-changing shit. You start to see people, and not just the media, through new eyes. You find it difficult, if not impossible, to spend much time around people who insist on presenting a perfect facade to the world. You stop explaining yourself when others question your choices or seem to pass judgement. And you start to apply it to your whole interior universe, overturning the meaning of your old stories and even losing the meanings altogether.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where its meaning suddenly dissolved? We might not initially question long-standing connections, taking them for granted because they are long-standing, already in place. Then one day you realize that the entire connection is a thin veneer of appearance, money, possessions, ownership, control, and power passing for something deeper. One single drop of your human dignity dissolves it, because it is dark and hollow inside–nothing of substance is there, and there’s nothing to be retrieved. It doesn’t matter if the connection is in the present or in the past, if it’s a relationship or a career. If the connection is long-standing, yet fails to deliver what is real and meaningful to you, a lot of your own elements of identity can fall like dominoes without its support.
That’s where I find myself these days, rebuilding meaning after a series of revelations that impacted who and what I thought I was. It even involves rebuilding my language, my way of writing, my point of view. It’s been a bit like Alice in Wonderland; I suppose I have, in a sense, gone down the rabbit-hole, but it’s a necessary journey. There are lots of fun things I want to post about, everyday matters like learning to make Singapore Chow Mai Fun, the latest knitting project, and decluttering the garden (oh yes). But the deep and abiding changes in my mind will color my actions and my posts. I do know that I am lighter in spirit, and feel quietly confident.
That is the upside of the loss of meaning: a chance to explore and rebuild all the facets of your life, this time with a lot more awareness, a lot more choice, and no threat of guilt. The old definitions of material and personal worth need no longer apply, and there’s now room for an uncensored identity to grow. It’s a bit like starting a journey on a cloud without having to say goodbye, and without trepidation, even though the destination is anyone’s guess.
Have you experienced major life or perspective changes as a result of or related to Minimalism? I’d love to know.