A week ago at the stroke of midnight, my aunt Cindy crossed the street and was hit by a truck and killed. Nobody stopped. The driver struck her with such force his license plate fell off at the scene. He and the other drivers, when confronted by police, said they didn’t know. They figured they’d hit a deer. She had no children but mothered with love everyone in her life, including her beloved animals. She was a beautiful 51.
I found out about my aunt the morning I hauled the last piece of furniture out the door for a yard sale. I’ve often said I’d rather be in the throes of labor than have a yard sale, and it’s true. I’ve sworn them off for years, preferring to give everything away, but Clover begged and I conceded.
The day before, as Cindy visited with an elderly friend, I pushed myself to let go of many of my favorite things to the yard sale pile. Gorgeous sunburst mirrors, topiaries, throw pillows, designer curtains, pottery, slipcovered dining chairs, wool rugs, baskets, new ottoman, desk, garden stuff, jewelry, tablecloths, kayaks, crib, chandelier, and everything pretty that I love.
I don’t talk a lot about beautiful possessions on this blog because the online world is so full of it, but I love external beauty. I thrive on it. I also thrive on simplicity. On fewer choices and open floor space. On an empty cupboard in my small kitchen just because. On one tube of color that doubles for cheeks and lips. On a small inner-circle of friends so I can attend to them with care. It’s not my nature to let go, but for peace and freedom to be inspired, I’ve worked at it. Pressed myself even when it’s painful to do so.
In the wake of this, and other recent significant losses, I’ve pondered the Sanskrit concept of aparigraha, which advises us:
- to travel light on the spiritual path
- to let go of the old to make room for the new, including ideas
- to limit possessions to what is necessary and important
- to take what is truly necessary and no more
- to grieve our dead and let them go in order to love the living
Aparigraha also connotes greedlessness, non-grasping, non-attachment, restraint, non-hoarding, non-coveting, generosity with no-strings-attached, and letting go. It implies gratitude and contentment with what we have, and a willingness to let go when called upon. It helps us consider our possessions with attention and awareness. It reminds us to have faith in God that everything we need will come to us at the proper time.
The simple breath, available at any moment, is a perfect teacher for aparigraha. With each breath we naturally take in only as much as we need and then release. Every released breath opens space for a new breath. And each time we exhale, we are learning how to let go. Certainly not the easiest trait to master, especially in the face of the loss of a loved one, but worth the effort at least to me.
A gracious thank-you to all of those I’ve lost over the past month for teaching me generosity over greed, thou over me, faith over fear, and how to say goodbye. My honor to each of you is to love those in my life who are living, and until we meet again, a sweet farewell my dear friends.