I found my face in a resting smile several times today. I have often been accused of “thinking too much,” but I sorted out a lot of great stuff in the midst of the very long process of preparing my guitar for shipment. I thought about the difference between what I’m doing and what the thousands of college freshman have been doing for hundreds of years. I thought about my fear of how my nieces and nephew(s) will be affected by my absence and abandonment. I thought about people to whom I need to say goodbye and those who, throughout my life, failed to say goodbye to me. I thought about sugar, cycling, budgets, and packing peanuts.
Every fall, thousands of people, several years younger than I, leave the places and people that have made their homes for their entire lives. They travel far away and into the dens of lions and exhibits of great white sharks. They go, and they’re fine, so why do I feel like I’m cliff jumping? Maybe it’s easier for them because they plan on coming home again “in just a few months.” Maybe it’s not easy for them at all and I’m being unkind to myself with the comparison.
Comparison is a cheap and dirty trick. Being an auntie has been a sore subject for me since I went to Utah. I have a lot of insecurities and anxiety related with it because I have a hero complex, and because I compare myself to the other women who are aunties to my nieces and nephew(s). It occurred to me today that my biggest fear about moving has been that my tiny, wonderful, beautiful, precious nieces and nephew(s) would forget about me, or would remember me and not understand why I didn’t love them enough to stick around. I dread the day when I come to Addy, and she doesn’t sigh and say, “She loves me.” I hope that day never comes. If it does come, though, the reality is we will all survive, and we can get to know each other all over again. I know that I got to know my Auntie all over again after she was gone for a long time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I respect her and love her because of the defining things her life consisted of when I didn’t know her. My nieces and nephew(s) can make up their own minds about me if they need to in the future. In the meantime, I don’t want to be gripped by the fear of that.
Not being gripped by fear is not to say that I am not touched by fear. For instance, I went to Ross today, and I really wanted to buy everything. I have a trend. You know how, when you ship something very large (like a guitar), over a long distance (like to Virginia from California), through an unpredictable array of forecasts (like heat and humidity), you put a lot of padding in the box for security and insulation purposes? Well, I do that to myself. When I feel unstable, I insulate myself. I get fatter, and I surround myself with as much stuff as I can. Then, as I stabilize, I declutter and I lose weight.
The cool thing, friend, is that I haven’t stabilized in a long time. I’ve been somewhat aware of this trend for several months, and I’ve tried to find relief from the jostling. It’s been a long time, though, since I’ve actually felt the magnetic pull of stabilization, and I finally feel that pull again. It makes it a lot easier to separate the padding from my “personal value” when gravity begins to regain its pull. I can even be grateful for it. Insulation has its purpose, and I look forward to the day when that purpose has officially been served.
I read once that value is derived from an object’s purpose and origin. If I didn’t value my guitar, I wouldn’t decide it was the very best guitar in the world without taking a minute to consider any other guitar. If I didn’t value my guitar, I wouldn’t fear that it would lose anything or fall apart. If I didn’t value my guitar, I wouldn’t take care to insulate it. If I value my guitar enough for all of that, I think I owe myself at least that much respect. I’m learning to not apologize for the care I take to preserve my value anymore than I would expect my guitar to apologize for the preservation of hers.