Monday, January 9, 2017

Where Hidden mysteries are found. Excavating the Attic.

Happy New year!!

 These butterflies images are my collection of pictures from my hatch out of butterflies that I hatched out this past year. I found several monarch eggs, and brought them into the house, and chronicled their life from egg, to caterpillar to butterfly. To letting them fly away. I thought it's a good illustration of the process of growth, of rebirth, letting go of what we are, and the process we go through to become something beautiful.

So where have I been? You could say, I've been doing just what that caterpillar has been doing. Lots of hatching out of ideas, growth, wings, cocoon, and release. Over and over. 
Suffice it to say, 2016 was a good year.  It was the year I did several things on my bucket list. I published my very first audio book. It was the year of good health, and lots of swimming. Filled with nieces and nephews, and family parties, and work and play, and living. It was a sharpening the saw sort of year. Where I was digging out the crap of the previous years, and throwing off old empty chrysalises that no longer served a purpose.  
One goal I'm very proud of is that I cleaned out my mom's attic. It was a very trying experience, tossing out garbage, and living in the attic. Breathing the dust, and memories of my ancestors. 

You should try it some time. Such a diet, rich in old dust, and cobwebs, sets you in a strange mood of bygone days.


For over a month and a half, I dedicated my energies (not all, but most) to digging out my mom's attic.

It was a very memorable experience. One I hope not to have to repeat any time soon. To clean out an attic especially one like mine, is like opening the a deep, dark, time capsule that has been added to with every year.
Yeah, I know. This is my attic just before I decided to clean it. Scary!!!

In such a time capsule, you can't help but be thrown into the a mood of deep reflection, and reminisce about the past.  "Oh," you say, "there was the thing I used to love, oh here was the drawing I was so proud of, oh, here was the journal I used to write in. Oh, here was the baby clothes I used to wear. Oh, hear was the book I used to love to read."

Old bits of past accumulate in the cracks, and under the rickety floor boards, settling in the insulation of the house to forever stay, unless someone finds them. Bows, and hair pins I used to wear as a kid, an old puzzle piece from a puzzle I used to like, a piece of an old board game I used to play, an old coat I used to wear, memorabilia  from my sisters weddings, old Halloween costumes my mom made for us a long time ago, Christmas cards, letters, old journals, and old ideas, and old dreams, light bright pieces, scribbled on pieces of paper. Old keys, and marbles, and fake flowers, math books, and books I learned to read from.

               It was like entering a time Machine, where I not only got to look at my past, but my families past. And wonder about the future.

         At times, it seemed almost task impossible to complete. There was so much stuff you couldn't even wiggle. It was a frightening, terrifying, and also an exciting project I had gotten myself into. I never knew what I'd find next. What new memories I'd bring out into the light. What new old junk I'd find.  It was such an all consuming project I got kind of possessive of it. I wanted to be the first to go through a boxes to see what treasures I might find.

Cleaning that attic was like entering some sort of apocalyptic adventure novel. There were layers of sediment, like rings of a tree. Each layer was a different year, each ring a different era in our house. Some era's I was too young to even be a part of, except now I was, because I was excavating it.  I was a paleontologist digging out fossils of the past. I was an archaeologist, uncovering bits and pieces of my families lives. It was a strange old new land for me. 

            The attic, the walls, the floor, the ceiling bulged from the weight of what had been, and what was, year by year being added to, until its belly was so full it couldn't contain anything else. And now I was dissecting it piece by piece, cleaning out its clogged arteries. 

 Before I'd braved cleaning it, I would open the door and peer in, looking on as if it was some natural disaster scene. There was barely enough room to even wiggle around in there.  I'm not exactly sure what made last year the year I decided to venture forth, and clean it.  Maybe I had no real reason, except it all started because I was looking for a certain lost item. And in order for me to find what I had lost, I needed clean out the junk.

                        And oh, what junk there was.

Four truckloads of stuff, hauled off to a local thrift store, and that's not counting the truckloads of garbage that went to the dump.

Boxes full of old patterns.

Piles of hangers.

Old Christmas lights.

Piles of old school books.

Heaps, and heaps of old clothes.

Truckloads of old cloth, from my mom's sewing days.

Food storage that was used to hold up shelves.

Lots of old art projects, canvases, paper Mache dolls from my aunt's old art classes.

            Picture frames of every shape and size.

Old suitcases, piles of old papers, and yarn. Things other people had given us to store. Baby clothes no one would ever wear again. Shoes I'd outgrown. Books we would never read again.  Old forgotten memories, and hidden under a mayhem of debris.

            Old furniture. Toys, and trinkets.
            The list goes on, and on.

            One item I found that was particularly interesting was a box shoved clear in the back of the attic, marked, "Junk drawer crap." And taped in yellow electric tape.  The box intrigued me. What was this box doing up in the attic? Who had cleaned out the junk drawer and shoved it in the attic?

            My older brother came to mind---as I assumed he had thought that squirreling the junk away was a better idea, instead of having to sort it.

    I saved that box for later, so I could really look inside it and see what it contained. Later, when I came back to the box, I was surprised by what it held. It was like a time capsule from whatever date that it had been hidden away. It was full of pocket knives, tweezers, screw drivers, and old oozing batteries, lots of Micro cars, back to the future mini cars, little battle ship air planes, a pig squeaker toy, and a lot of other odd little doodads. There was a spiny top, an special type of ear plug holder that my brother got when he had his ear operation, and needed special types of ear plugs that kept the water out of his ears. The list goes on.

            It was a most enlightening box full of junk. Junk that told a story.

            There were other boxes like that box, boxes filled with special items my mom had carefully saved from our childhood. Stories, pictures, drawings, beautiful scribbles. Simple gifts and cards we had given to her. These were priceless. And full of memories. I couldn't help but thank my mom for saving those things. Things that brought back beautiful and happy days.

            Truth be told, after excavating the attic for nearly two months, most of what I brought to the surface was useless.  Most of what we kept was junk. And not important. And the stuff that was important and beautiful, and worth keeping had been hidden under the junk for so long that it was really appalling.  Why had we stored so much needless rubbish?

            That is a very good question.

It took a miracle to de-junk it all. My brain felt overloaded with sorting, and tossing, and sweeping, and carrying. I worked in the attic through the hot months endeavoring to de-constipate and rid the colon of our house of the clogg-age it had been accumulating for so long, making the wiring to our house unsafe, and our lives cluttered, and our whole house's metabolism slow.

Look I'm making progress!
            The Attic was dusty. The dust was so thick that I had to wear a face mask while I worked, or I'd end up sneezing, and my eyes would start watering, and my lungs would start burning.  It was a stale, old place, and dark, and very hot. There was only one window that was impossible to open. It was such a huge dirty, dusty, hot, hard task that I sometimes have nightmares about cleaning it.

            I'd grab boxes, sort through them, and heave them over the rafters, and then haul them downstairs, then take them out to the truck, or the front room to let my mom sort through what I wasn't sure about keeping. It was a slow process, but it did have it's perks---I felt like a detective, looking for clues about our past. I never knew what I'd discover next.

            I found a pile of boxes full of my brothers stuff, just before he left on his mission. He's been gone for a long time since. Married, with a house of his own. So I decided that these boxes were going back to him. The funny thing was, when he opened them, he smiled, and reminisced for a short while---a Frisbee, old parts to rockets he had built, telescope parts, games, science books, cassette tapes, old scraps of paper. After going through his stuff, he kept only a few items, then tossed out what we had stored in the attic for so long.

            The more I cleaned, the more I realized how very odd it was that we had held onto things that no longer served us at all. The dust, and the clutter, and the things we thought we might some day use, but never did.  Most of we had thought to save was really, and truly junk. Very little was worth keeping.

            We had held on so tightly, afraid to let go, hoarding for a rainy day, that it had cluttered up our lives, and weighed us down so that it was almost nearly an impossible task to dig ourselves out, to get to the good stuff we had saved.

Getting even more empty. But a long ways to go!
    But truthfully, don't we all have an overloaded 'attic' of sorts? An attic so full of rubbish that we cringe if a friend or neighbor peered in. It isn't the place we'd first invite our guest into. "Here, come sit down here on this old box, and um, I'll get you a cup of...bad habits, or box of old resentments out to chew on. No, we hide the fact that our attics even exists because they are so full, and filled with things we'd rather keep out of public view. Embarrassing habits, or tendencies we squirrel away when company is afoot.

        Isn't that what we all do in various ways? Sweep the clutter that is afoot and hide away, out of sight. But it's still there, deep in subconscious 'attic.' Growing more ponderous every day. It is where we store our old grudges, and toxic relationships, and bad habits, hoping someday that they may helps us in some way. We know they are ugly, and bulky, but we can't seem to let them go, just yet.We are afraid that if we do let them go, we won't have anything to fill the empty space. We heap our fears in piles, like old clothes that we will some day get out and wear. We stack papers of past mistakes in disorderly rows, and line our bookshelves in stories of past woes. Such things haunt us, and weighs our house down, and bends the strong beams of our frames, causing a strain on our backs. We store our old resentments like piles of old shoes, whose 'soles' have long worn out, but we think if we keep them, and try them on again and again, and we will somehow move forward. But instead of moving us forward, they keep us stuck---they are unbending, brittle, stiff, and ugly on our feet.

            In such a stale attic, the thick dust of insecurity settles on it all, causing the wiring inside our souls to become faulty, keeping us in a gloomy, decayed state of darkness, disconnecting us from the from the light, our highest selves, and the paths that could take us forward. Deep down we know its getting ugly. We don't know where we stored the good stuff because its buried in all the junk we thought we ought to keep.

            And the more we hold onto the junk, the more impossible it is to store the good stuff. Because there's no room for it. So we are held back from the good, by the junk we so ardently hold onto.

            Year by year, it gets more and more mountainous, and unattractive, we keep the door closed. And only open it to shove something else in.

            It isn't until we go searching for something we have lost, do we dare open up the attic, and really look at what we have collected, stored away, and held onto for so long.

Getting emptier! 
    In that moment, you have two choices. Slam the door, nail it shut. And run. Or look around, and face everything you have packed away, and begin to bring it out into the light, and sort the good from the bad, and toss out what you no longer need.

            So go ahead. Crack open the door. And take courage! For you will need it in such a dark place. Step into the 'attic' of whatever it is that is weighing you down. Start where you are. If you can't seem to move. That's okay. Just begin one box at a time. Gradually, you begin to take small steps. It might take you months. It might be hot, and miserable, and hard to breathe. But let go of fears, your resentments, and the clutter of self doubt. You are now a detective uncovering your own secrets, an archaeologist digging out your darkest corners, you are a paleontologist, uncovering the fossils and skeletons of your own mind, and tossing them out.  And bringing to light what needs to be cleaned, and renewed, and perhaps thrown away.

            And once you have dug out, and your space is finally clean.
You can stand and revel in the empty beauty, and keep the good things you discovered close at hand. 
                In such a clean state, I would give a word of caution. A cleaned space is like a vacuum, and asks to be filled. So keep close guard on what you let into your attic so that no junk enters in. Make a statement, that  "Nothing goes into here unless it's good, and will add to my life!"

            You will have to be firm. Your family, friends, and neighbors, and even strangers might want to deposit all sorts of needless rubbish in there. Or leave large, bulky, useless, items on your porch for you to store.

            But do not think you have to hold onto everything that other people want you to keep. Be vigilant in letting go of what will weigh you down, and keep you from the good things in your life.

 This is my new year's wish for you all. And myself. May you keep your attic's clean for the coming year. Toss the trash of the previous years aside, and keep the real treasures that add value, and meaning to your life. Guard your doors, and keep a watchful lookout for those would dump garbage on you without reason. And do not let them in.

Store the good, and only the good. And you will always have room for more good, and more light, and space, and possibilities. Thus your journey will be made better by the things you choose to carry with you, and what you choose to let go. Remember, you are the guardian of your door. Let none pass through who would deposit rubbish in your space. Let in the air, and dust out the cobwebs that hold you in place. Make windows, where there were walls, so that all shadows are gone, and you will be able to see clearly the paths on which you walk, and all that you carry with you will be beautiful.

That is my wish for this coming year. That in this clean space, beautiful things will grow.
This past year has been beautiful. And something beautiful right now has just just happened. A storm has come, and the clouds have lit up a bright golden amber hue. And a double rainbow has just appeared. The washing of the world is made clean, and moist and beautiful by the cleansing storm. 
May the storms that may come, and the rain, and tears you shed this year be marked with the golden clouds, and laced with rainbows just as the brilliant one I have just witnessed.

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