Sunday, September 18, 2011

Simplicity and age

Read a blog recently about the Hindu idea of the four stages of life, and moving into the 'Forest Dweller' stage. Entering the forest of many delights

I heard about this many years ago. The concept always made sense, and the idea of moving beyond accumulation had an appeal, even when I was in the materialistic 'Householder' stage.

In my thirties I was very into my career - concerned about how much money I was making, looking for advancement, taking courses to improve my skills and get more credentials, always looking to move ahead.  I always had my resume ready, and I changed employers a few times.  Nowadays, I don't care anymore. Several openings to the Supervisor level have come up where I work - I won't apply for them. I enjoy my job, especially getting out in the field and getting things built. I won't trade a few extra dollars and a title for being stuck at a desk reviewing someone else's project.

I also remember in my 30's hearing that Elton John had a huge auction and got rid of most of his stage clothing and collectables. At the time I thought that was a strange thing to do, in fact I was shocked.  My then husband and I were busy accumulating furniture, dishes, pets, cars, all the householder items and we attached great importance to them. Then my marriage ended and I left most of it behind. It was freeing to live in a small apartment, with minimal possessions.
But I purchased a house, and slowly the accumulation crept up again. Things I "needed", and things I "wanted".  Clothes, furniture, motorcycles, a stereo, tools, knitting materials.  It's been seventeen years (hard to believe) and I have a full house again.  Now I find it hard to let go of some items, holding on to a younger life.

However, I have noticed a subtle shift in my life over the last few years, from always looking to acquire more, to an attitude of this is more than enough. For the first time over the last year I seriously considered retiring early.  Before I thought I'd want to work beyond age 65!

I am going to consider the Forest Dweller stage and how to let go of the mementos, the 'just in case' items, the tools for a life I don't live any more. It's a process, a shift I need to think about and honour.   It's time to let go.

PS on the letting go front I've taken three bags of clothing and books to the thrift store.  It's a start!