Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Minimalism: Drah-ma, Dahling!

Since last October, as you know, I have been focused on decluttering and minimalizing. This has taken focus on my small apartment, my closet, my email in-boxes, my pantry, my freezer, and my bookshelves. This material action has been a pleasure for me, since I already knew my apartment was cluttered--in 750 sq. ft., that becomes obvious pretty quickly!--but I had the feeling my life was stuck as well.

This startled and scared me, because when I was working with a life coach about five years ago, I told her that I felt like the characters in Dante's Inferno who were frozen in the slush. With my head barely above water. Am I in the same place in 2011 as I was in 2006?

I hope not!

Interestingly, when I went back to this image, I found it was the third circle of Hell where Dante encounters the gluttons (!) who are indeed stuck in freezing slush, stuck by the gluttony of their own desires. Ugh. And, to me, in the movie SE7EN, the most disturbing visual image is the glutton, forced to eat and eat and eat until he died. Again, ugh. (No pictures here!)

Rather than avarice, gluttony seems apt for the visual of myself and others gobbling up "stuff" and getting stuck, literally, in the muddy goo of ownership, especially of things I didn't really care about or use or need. The notion of letting go of those things has been liberating, as I said before, and while it has not created a naked apartment with plenty of room, it was a start.

What happens when "things" starts to include other people's detritus, like emotional drama?

Well, if I hadn't started to give away or sell books, clothes, shoes, pans, etc. (or to simply and joyfully throw them out!), I wouldn't have made room for the next realization: I need a new place to live, one that is larger, brighter, and has less drama. Less drah-ma.

Because I just realized (two months into the year!) that my greatest resolution this year is to get rid of the drama that formerly cluttered my life. By this I mean my own drah-mas, brought about by procrastination and evasion, but also the drah-ma of others.

Example: one reason I have speeded up the moving process, the major reason in fact, is the "drah-ma" of my complex. Not only my landlord's problems which culminated in a 60-minute phone call in which he spilled secrets of his life  (boy, howdy!) into my ear, but the gossipy neighbors who introduced me to "the problems" he was having by spilling the same problems into my ear at the mailbox and en route to my car "for my own good." While I appreciated their motive of looking out for me--and they were--they were also interested in passing along in gossip private information they were privy to.

I was going to move anyway, to change my living situation, but this drah-ma seriously affected my timetable.

There was a surge in this drah-ma between mid-December and the end of January, when I decided to move (and I was gone for two weeks for Xmas). My anti-drama policy made to clear to me that I had to take action. I did, and have a brand-new apartment with no drama.


Second a-ha!: I also have been slow to realize that I work in a department that likes drah-ma, with a former chair who loved drah-ma, and that that made life not only drah-matic but uncomfortable. People who live with a chaos theory of management (former dean, former chair) like to "change things up" just to act as if that is creatively stimulating. People who thrive on gossip (neighbors, landlord) like to insert buzzing into their lives as a distraction, away from what needs to be done or their own issues. I am so guilty of this, as well!

By eliminating (or minimizing) drah-ma in 2011, I really hope not only to make my life saner and more serene, but to expand time for creativity and conscious accomplishment.

Oops, afternoon drah-ma: a colleague just stopped by to say he felt left out of the information loop and that the student project I am working on now is disorganized, which it is not, and to unload his drama and that of his students' second-hand stories.

What I realize is that drah-ma is addicting, like clutter, and can feel like hugging a tiger. You clasp it to you, it is soft and warm, and it will eat. you. up. Without remorse. Living inside a drah-ma is draining and exciting and highly emotional... it can feel so satisfying, as if you are I am really experiencing LIFE. But it is, like all clutter, just holding you me down and wasting energy. It needs to be given away, put out in the dumpster, or sold for good money (write a screenplay?). In fact, drah-ma is worse, because it leaves an ugly residue if I participate, and a kind of nasty shadow/smudge even if I don't. Walk away, Jay.

It is also about control. By creating a drah-ma and enfolding me in it, you attempt to control my emotions. My immediate response is: Hello, dumpster! Goodbye, slushy goo of gluttonous drah-ma!

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