Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Sometimes I have thoughts I would never admit to anyone.  Not necessarily because I'm afraid or they're horrible thoughts--just that they are so out of character for me, so far from who the world knows me to be. 

This week I was headed for work. (I've picked up something a few days a week as my studio is as frigid as a witch's t....ah yes, you can fill in the blank there.  Needless to say, no painting is possible.)  And on that journey downtown, I pass several piles of blankets-o-homeless.  The carefully assembled, mindfully arranged mountain of cloth indicating a slumbering soul beneath the overpass.  This week....I envied them. 

From a distance, perhaps even from right next door, everything is fine.  And in truth--it is.  Honestly, if you read here regularly, I have an amazing husband and three marvelous boys and a dog that can drive me mad but still waits on the bathroom rug while I shower, she loves me so.  We purchased our home two years ago--from the same place we bought our washing machine. (chuckle)   Imagine that.  Craig's list is quite handy, and this huge hulk of a century old house had the bones that I've dreamt about.  Eleven foot ceilings, three fireplaces, stained glass and a front porch we dance and eat, play chess and linger on long into the summer evenings.  Of course, the months of me wearing drywall dust as an accessory, sporting the fragrance of primer and wood stain, sawdust in my hair and paint on my cheek as I made dinner have taken a toll.  But we've made a home quite lovely through sweat and tears and occasional swearing. 

However, every once in a while, amidst the scheduling and juggling and arranging and cleaning and disciplining and chasing and stocking....and cleaning again.  I just get tired a bit...inside.  I think we all do.  Life can be heavy.  I'm quite religious about clearing out the clutter, passing on what we don't need; (especially if irked, my husband comes home to a missing coffee table and empty shelves and immediately inquires, "Is something amiss?") but at times I wonder if I have possessions.....or if I am possessed.

The human dilemma....how much is enough?  The years I spent in Guatemala and Mexico, I lived out of two boxes.  One of clothing--all dresses, of course; (thus began my love affair with the sundresses I now live in during the sultry months of summer) and the other filled with books.  I also carried a camera in my bag and a set of water colors. That was it.  I am slightly stunned by that.

I'm writing this with my laptop resting in the antique secretarial desk I received for mother's day some years ago.  Atop of it is a potted rosemary plant I brought in for the winter, several of the aged hardbound books I adore, a bronzed lamp with an amethyst trumpet flower shade, various stationary and journals...there are more objects within my reach as I sit here, than I owned then.  Of course children come with their own apparatus--the tackle box it takes to raise three boys is crammed with pocket knives, band aids, and footballs.   Add a husband and a pup and my world is overflowing.  Creating a sanctuary they can all run to is a mother's job, I know this.....so am I insane that once in a while, for a moment....I wish to just keep driving?  Dear Lord, not forever....but for a day?  A week? 

Perhaps I need a vacation.  Or more sleep.  I do take comfort in the fact that most of what we own we have rescued from curbs and garages, spending weeks breathing new life into the broken.  Most of it is wood, which I love, I'm not much into the gleaming plastic and glitter that seems so abundant.  However, I cannot seem to escape this twig of a thought in the back of my mind...the shadow that hovers behind the crowd.

Am I possessed?

Joy is not in things;
it is within us.

- Richard Wagner



Anonymous said...

I'm tired now. ;) Get some rest young lady.

terlee said...

Perhaps it's just a case of the Winter Doldrums? Imagine the days ahead when that sweet smell of Spring blows into the house thorugh the open doors and windows; flowers bloom, porch swings creak, and suddenly, things seem more...cheerful, easier, not confining, but deeply satisfying.

Robbie Grey said...

"The years I spent in Guatemala and Mexico, I lived out of two boxes..."

I remember a period similar for that. Sometimes, when I look at all the things I've acquired since then, I mourn for such simple days.

Lizzie said...

Deep breath?
Take a little break?
Cup of tea?
Walk outside?

Either way, you need you time!

Stuff and Nonsense said...

come on
just a little glitter?

but yes
i do know what you mean

i feel the weight of my house
and all the work it requires

the energy it can leech me
and i think

why again
did we tie ourselves
to this hulk of wood and stone?

but alas
that urge to nest
and fluff that nest
runs bone deep

and i think that if
we lived an insular life
the time and money spent
would be utterly wasted

we open our home so frequently
that it justifies the work
to have a place that is
welcoming and warm
and shared with others

(she said as she prepared to go strip
yet another room of ceiling to floor wallpaper)


Anonymous said...

Ahhh, well you know I can relate to this right now. I really appreciated the comment you left on my blog last week about trying to balance everything, and figuring out what I can cut out, etc.

"How much is enough" for sure. For me, that can extend to material possessions, but also to just the "things" I do. I can see how you'd envy the homeless on the surface - no responsibilities, no possessions. We take on too much, we really do. Clearly we are if we can look at some of the earth's poorest people and feel even the tiniest amount of jealousy...

Mandy_Fish said...

I think it's the human condition, no?

When I was single and alone all I craved was company. A family. A full house. Now that I have those, oh how I crave solitude.

Chantel said...

BamaTrav--I love when someone tells me to go to bed!

Terlee--I know you're right, Spring will bring her lavender sweetness...fireflies make any burden lighter, don't they?

Robbie--oh, so well said; the word "mourn" embodies how I sometimes ache for those days.

Lizzie--can I take you up on all of those??

Alison--lol Oh love, you know indeed, good luck! (I despise wallpaper)

Sarah Kate--you're so right, it's an odd sensation to envy someone with nothing...well, nothing but the ability to sleep as late as they want. :)

Mandy--solitude...sweet joy, that. (can I admit I once crawled under the folding table to the space behind the washer....and just sat for a bit?)

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

There was a time when I loved collecting pottery and other pretty things, all new of course. I admire the fact that you've been acquiring previously owned pieces and giving them new life. As for feeling possessed, everyone longs for change now and again. Can you get away for a weekend? One evening? Anything?

Out on the prairie said...

It amazed me how little I can live with in this house, but it slowly accepts some clutter.

mermaid gallery said...

big homes, big lives, big loves, can be exhausting....we all need a holday once in awhile...some time off to just have fun...with no responsibilities at all....Isla Holbox, Yucatan, Mexico....go there.....that will revive you!

Freckled Philologist said...

One day, hopefully, when I write as candidly as you, I will have arrived! Truly.
Just to keep driving. . . yes, that has occurred to me more than once.
Still in CA, finally have my documents and am about to leave again for Spain. What a whirlwind, and little time to blog or follow blogs.
I wish I could say the visit has soothed this mother's soul, but the story isn't over. I've thought of Stafford, the hymnist who wrote, It is Well With My Soul, who lost five of his children and still managed to pen those words. Mine are alive and have growing and learning to do, as difficult as that journey seems to be at this time.
I'm glad you are with your three there. A toast to discovering that joy within us. And then sharing it with those we love. Blessings!

The Loerzels said...

I love this! And yes, now I'm questioning if I too am posessed.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Chantel,
There is a post I put up that you may enjoy. :D

Peaceful Warrior said...

Possessed. Sure. Of an awareness...

Ask who it is that is looking at your life in this way. I mean who is it that has raised this observation from within. I venture that it is not possession but a voice, (the real you) helping you to realise that you are awake and that the present moment is all there ever is.
Sure enough family and things and responsibilities give us a feeling of who we are, an identity. But it may be that who we really are is not identified with all these things, but in being in the moment and knowing that here we can really be, our truest selves.

I have reading suggestions if you need more clarity.

I loved your post it got us all thinking and opening up to ourselves.

Big hugs and loads of love, your comment was hugely appreciated.
P.W. x

The Empress said...

chills. Because I have just been thinking this same thing.

I need to return to just what we need.

What are my children seeing and learning.

It's so much more than just avoiding become a Hoarder's episode.

Lovely to read something "real" and relatable today.


Brian Miller said...

no you are not...and these are not crazy thoughts...i crave simplicity...stuff stresses me...and in the current economic conditions the reality is it is just not mart to be investing in more stuff...i get wild thoughts about things like communal living sometimes ot house sharing with another family...

Brian Miller said...

thanks for the hit too on the poetry contest...

Chantel said...

Bliss--I've always felt a sort of...tangible love in previously owned things. Like there is a lingering sense of being wanted in them. Silly, perhaps?

Prairie--it does sneak up on us, doesn't it?

Mermaid--oh, such a lovely idea...

Mary--your soul is so endearing. (and I cannot imagine losing even a single child...how does one breathe after?) I must admit I am a tad envious of your return to Spain, but know you're leaving bits of your heart behind...

Loerzels--thank you, and be wary! :)

Warrior--that voice is keeping me from sleep at times, but reminds me to never set aside my heart. And thank you!

Empress--oh, how wretched is the life that just barely avoids dispair...there is so much more!

Brian--I've had the same wild thoughts at times. I mean, if we had two families in our place, someone else might even cook once in a blue moon?? And you're welcome. :)

Mary said...

Maybe you just like things simple. A lot of us like things to be simple and when life starts throwing things your way, the easiest way to take control is to clean things out so our homes are yet again uncluttered. Nothing wrong with that. Everyone needs a little time to themselves too.

le Chef said...

I've wondered the same thing far too many times. Then, when we lost everything but each other, I realized how much we didn't need. Life is much simpler now, and I try to keep it uncluttered.
I had a perfect summer once where I too lived out of a box. My only extra anything was my journal.

.. and some day I AM going to keep driving, just to see where I end up.

Gina Gao said...

This is a good post.