One of the messages that came up for me many times as I prepared for and journeyed to Squam was one of traveling light.
I packed huge boxes of supplies and sacred tools which was far too many, I loaded up on layers of clothing, not knowing how that tricksy New England would feel on my California skin-and true to form it was hot at times and absolutely freezing at others. I didn't want to wear the same jeans under my hempy skirts with my ratty boots that I didn't care if paint fell on, but also wanted to have some spiffy items because ragamuffin is a look that kind of follows me around. Some things are hard to change. Overpacking is somewhat of a disease. My fantasy was that I would ship everything out beforehand, pray the boxes arrived and then just take my little carry-on and save the $50 in baggage check. In the end, I still ended up checking a roller bag.
Another artist and I had a dock chat about all of the stuff we humans carry on our backs from place to place, and it's always been a subject that feels important to keep digging into. I've gone from living in under 900 square feet with a partner, three dogs and two cats to trying to fill up 2200 square feet and never making it to the third floor most days. I've cleaned two and a half bathrooms for more years than I wish to count. And sometimes it feels like a blessing to have squatted on acreage with a trampoline and open space to roam. Other times it feels like too many precious hours are spent tending the grounds and organizing walk-in closets.
My lakeside mate told me of her experience post-Katrina, about seeing an entire town's personal belongings hanging from the trees and filling the streets after water levels floated homes up off of their foundations and left their drawers out in the branches. My heart hurt to think of what we hold onto that will be here long after we are gone, things that will not go back to the Earth anytime soon. So many of us value the fate of the planet, and yet we refuse to surrender what gives us the fleeting and illusory comfort of home. Letting go is my work in this lifetime, on all levels imaginable.
As we search for a dwelling in Ojai, I'm looking at what another friend/fairy godmother calls *true need*. Do my children really need their own bedrooms and privacy, or would it bond them to share close quarters? Do I need to schlep every shovel, rake and hoe or can I use my hands, hire a gardener? Where do I want to create time and how can I do that by choosing the space that is enough, but not overly maintenence heavy? Do we need three boxes of Christmas decorations, or do I want to vacation away from home during the holidays where the season can be celebrated in communion with my children instead of consumption and waste? What sort of world view do I want them to experience?
I'm even looking at the acrylic paints I use. Those won't be breaking down soon. The wood panels I create on- can I stretch hemp fabric over some branches or scrap wood and make that work? 'Cause I'm really considering it. How will my art change to come into alignment with what is really important to me? I think of Mama Earth and the green woods I just left. How little I needed while I was there feels a little bit Walden and a lot doable.
All these questions and more, as I arrive back with a suitcase that still sits unpacked, empty plastic bottles to recycle, because it's too hard to find a fill-up joint for my kleen kanteen while on the road.
How will the Earth look one hundred years from now because of me and my family? What do we want to make sure we leave behind? What would we like to be assured that we won't leave behind?
Squam, travel, planning a move-they all tie into an opportunity to make the kind of changes I'm yearning for.