persimmons and Hot Wheels

persimmon2.jpg
persimmons, Canon 300D

I’ve been hankering for simplicity these days, wanting to clean things out, purge the things I don’t use, pare everything down to minimize the chaos in my brain. {I think some people vacuum and it has the same effect, but we have hardwood floors and it’s just not that satisfying. I sell my used books and clothes instead.}

I have this idea that if I just clear everything out, it will be like it will be like swiffing my brain. And there is so much to swiff in my brain!

There is the chaos of bills to pay, and did Blue Cross overcharge us for those tests? and there are birthdays and lunches and coffee dates and “let’s get together soon!” and “why didn’t you write back?” There is the chaos of email and voicemail and snailmail and all the people I want to correspond with and how sometimes, with a heavy heart, I have to press delete and let it all go. Delete delete delete.

There are yoga classes, and recipes and letters to write. There are wars and elections and people dying and junkies on the corner and the neighbor’s house that got broken into and better locks for the doors. There are babies to make and relationships to better and romantic vacations to have.

It amazes me that we create all of this amazing stuff: friendships, parties, art openings, vacations, work, and then we can feel so oppressed by them. Sometimes I feel like a prisoner of my own making, trapped by own self-made chaos. I get overwhelmed by all of things I’ve built, even if I love all those things.

It reminds me of a story I read in a book by Rachel Naomi Remen called My Grandfather’s Blessings. This little boy that Rachel knew really loved his Hot Wheels car and played with it all the time. Well, all the adults got really excited when a fast food joint was giving away Hot Wheels cars with their Happy Meals. They got this idea that if everyone they knew collected a Hot Wheels car, they could present him with a GI-NORMOUS pile of cars and he would be so happy and thrilled to bits.

But the little boy wasn’t happy at all and he sort of paused, looked really sad and overwhelmed and said, “Rachel, there are too many cars to love.”

And that’s how I feel sometimes, like there are too many things to love and I can’t give the proper care to any of them.

Anyone out there feel me?

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50 Comments

  1. tom

    Isn’t Autumn the best time to realize this? I look about as the trees shed their cargo, the sun stays away from the Pacific NW for ever-extended periods, and the piles of stuff block both the windows of my room and my heart. This all makes me realize how addictive chaos truly is.
    Fine point about love – our capacities often seem so infinite, and we feel they must be that way, but learning economy/precision in love can be a most needed lesson. Who needs half-assed love?

  2. Julia

    Wow Andrea! Well said! I often feel exactly as you describe. I am so blessed to have wonderful family and many friends and treasured objects in my life. But sometimes I feel like I’m being held prisoner by my “stuff”. Sometimes it’s so hard to give others the time they need and keep up with work,the house cleaning, etc…. And then, because I am so fortunate to have all these good things in my world, I feel guilty for feeling like this. I also know how you feel about purging your stuff. About twice a year I root through clothes, and personal belongings and if I’ve not worn or used them lately…off they go to charity. I also purge all the junk mail and papers that clog my life on a weekly basis. Thank God for my paper shredder! It is all a big pain in the ass to keep up with, but it is a cleansing feeling to get rid of stuff and create space and order. As far as having too many things to love?…I try to rememeber that love is limitless, and there are so many ways to show it. That keeps me grounded. Hang in there. Good luck with “swiffering” your life. P.S. Love, love, Love the persimmon photo! Will there be a print of this 1 sometime in the future?

  3. Donavan

    Feel you?
    Dear supergirl, I feel you as in “story of my life”.
    I am reminded of several things…
    One is a quote…”The Greatest Of Self Care Is The Ability To Say No”….forget who said it, but it is a good one to remember.
    We all embrace YES!, but lets not forget about No.
    NO NUKES!
    NO WAR IN IRAQ!
    NO HATE!
    See! No is awesome. Maybe Mrs. Reagans idea wasn’t so silly after all.
    Another thing to keep in mind is the little safety card you get on plane flights…SECURE OXYGEN MASK ON SELF BEFORE HELPING CHILD.
    Why is this? Because, one must assure their own safety in order to be a helper to others.
    No?
    YES!
    You can still love all the cars.
    But you can only drive one at a time.

  4. amandarin

    Amen.
    I’ve been feeling like this a lot lately but didn’t know how to explain it to anyone. You’ve done it perfectly.

  5. Meg

    It’s funny – I’ve been thinking, as a society we are under such pressure to do and so little to just be. I’ve been recovering from a prolonged illness, and I’m just not back up to speed yet, I’m very weak, and in a way it’s a blessing I have to go very slowly and take very good care of myself. But today my roomate asked me: You’ve been sleeping alot and you’re not working, so you might be depressed! And I thought, its so strange that we respond to stillness with fear. Because stillness is when our truth comes up – and truth I think, is scary.
    So – Andrea – I wish you stillness – a moment or a few hours of it. It may not swiffer your brain, but it sure does let you see which hot wheels are really important! 🙂
    Blessings!

  6. cheryn

    hmmph.
    EXACTLY.
    such a comfort to know i’m not the only one. i always feel like i just cant get it together, too much “stuff”, art to make, friends to hang with, sleep to catch up on, new projects to start, messes to clean, walks to take, a mind to clear!
    my fiance (that funny word) and i had debated getting rid of everything but our bed and sofa to feel more clear, until we rearranged the entire apartment and got a fresh take on our surrondings.
    so many drives to work with the random domino thinking… “need to call car insurance… when are we going to have that garage sale… still didnt return that memory card… when can i get out for a nice fall hike… just want to go take some photos… need to burn that cd of photos… just want to take some photos… falll hike… trees look so pretty… where do people find the time………” then i realize i havent at all heard whats going on with the audiobook playing in the background.
    there really is too much to love, but that does sound like a blessing.
    if only time could stand still every now and then so we can give these things some good undivided attention.
    a national “take a break, clear your mind, and do the things you love” week should be put in place!
    …and with all the to do’s, i am remembering i havent taken the time to thank you for my wonderful contessa necklace! i’m lovin’ it! and i’ve gotten so many compliments, to which i’ve all responded with reference to your website. 🙂

  7. cst

    yes, yes, andrea! i am currently in school for writing (which i love dearly) but it’s 2 in the morning, and i’m up writing a paper, and i don’t love it right now. i get into funks where i think “i am going to spend the rest of my life staring at a blank word document.” and then i have a moment: i write a really great phrase or sentence, or my fiance looks at me in that way, and i get it.
    i wish i could live in those moments sometimes, don’t you?

  8. sadenra

    There is a nice poem by Mary Oliver which goes right to the spot for this in my opinion.
    Hoping not to hurt any copyright, I’m gonna write it down here:
    THE JOURNEY
    One day you finally knew
    what you had to do,
    and began,
    though the voices around you
    kept shouting
    their bad advice –
    though the whole house
    began to tremble
    and you felt the old tug
    at your ankles
    “Mend my life!”
    each voice cried.
    But you didn’t stop.
    You knew what you had to do,
    though the wind pried
    with its stiff fingers
    at the very foundation
    though their melancholy
    was terrible.
    It was already late
    enough, and a wild night,
    and the road full of fallen
    branches and stones.
    But little by little
    as you left their voices behind,
    the stars began to burn
    through the sheets of clouds,
    and there was a new voice
    which you slowly
    recognized as your own,
    that kept you company
    as you strode deeper and deeper
    into the world,
    determined to do
    the only thing you could do –
    determined to save
    the only life that you could save.
    ———–
    Sorry, for taking up so much space.
    I’m sure in no time you’ll see “your stars burning” again.

  9. fern

    -shit, yeah…
    What especially stinks is when I get totally caught up in idolizing people who Do It All,
    Then find myself sunk into a muffly hole of Eeyore brain i.e.”Why Bother”…
    Even then the Too Many Things creep into my hiding self and gnaw away at me…
    ICKY!….
    Then I remember SARK’s best advice ever:
    MICROMOVEMENTS….!

  10. Julie

    I am printing this entry out and will carry it with me today, along with the comments above. You wrote exactly what I’ve been feeling these past few weeks. I currently have friends who are angry with me for not getting in touch, but I just need to be still for awhile. Thanks for not making me feel so strange about it.

  11. Lu

    Do I feel you?! Hell, yeah! Sometimes all of the activities are stressful instead of satisfying. But I am grateful for all of them. I could have nothing to do then I would be complaining about that.

  12. mademoiselle a.

    *raises hand very, very high* yes, yes, and yes.

  13. Chana

    So much life to live, so little time…
    My way of dealing with it is to write everything down on a list, and then give myself permission to enjoy whatever the moment has to offer! Once it’s down on paper, I don’t feel the compulsion as often to play “mental dominos”.

  14. Allison

    Exactly!!!

  15. Jen

    YES!!!!!!!!!!!1

  16. Missy

    I’ve been reading your site for a while, and I really enjoy reading your inpiring posts! Thank you. I can truly identify with this one. I have felt the same way for a while now; I have a need to purge all the old stuff from my life to help me feel lighter. The problem is, when I start to go through boxes of things I’ve saved over the years, I find I can’t part with them. I need to get rid of the piles of things I let build up on a regular basis. I’ve been feeling owned by my belongings, and it needs to end. I need to be free to appreciate the things in my life that are important. Maybe all the “stuff” I hold onto is the reason why I can’t move forward or find my life’s passion. Thanks for saying what a lot of us feel, you’re not alone!

  17. Laura

    Wow, yes.
    Especially the feeling of too much stuff around me. And the pangs for not being a good enough friend and daughter. And all the projects I want to start/finish, the yoga (! that made me laugh out loud), the fish tank needs to be cleaned, the article needs to be written, the business needs to be started, my clothes, my books, my bric-a-brac, my thoughts.
    Working feels different now that my husband is going back to school, for some reason….and not to mention relationships and “babies to make”…that one really made me think because it’s been on my mind lately too, but how on earth can I deal with babies with all this other STUFF?!?
    And then there’s all that stuff outside my bubble, the world stuff, that becomes so overwhelming to think about.
    Rachel’s wonderful story is so true. How many of us really love something material now, like we loved a special toy when we were kids?
    Really, so many thanks for sharing this, it’s so good good to see that others deal with this kind of thing, too. Brain-swiffing is a terrific idea. 🙂 Isn’t writing in your journal sort of like that?

  18. Laura

    Oh, and sorry to comment twice, but I really believe that if you clear your life of things that are not truly wanted, or things that you loved and are now ready to move on to someone else to love, that the SPACE created not only clears your head but also is there for other things, that you need, to move in to, that may not have room to fit right now….keeping that in mind helps me to get rid of things. Plus the idea that someone else needs to love and enjoy this thing that I am no longer truly enjoying.

  19. Sari

    Well said, this is exactly the way that I have been feeling lately. You create your life of all of these things that you love and enjoy and then one day it starts to take over, almost becoming too much. It’s hard to find the balance of it all.

  20. Deanna

    Just when I begin to feel this way something pretty profound happens and I begin anew. Sounds silly and karmic but its so.
    I’m in the place you are right now, on the cusp, its of something wonderful and I have let go and am more than ready for it to happen.
    xo
    Deanna
    Thanks for all of the time and effort you put into corresponding with me about my order, I am way excited.

  21. jenn

    thank you for sharing this. your blog is a community, and i think when we share these things, these ideas and feelings, we are soothed and inspired at the same time and don’t feel as alone.
    we all need time for ourselves in order to give the best part of ourselves–
    i can’t wait for my shirt!

  22. Anonymous

    Definitely. I’m an art major and am currently in a painting class. I absolutely love painting, but I haven’t been able to love this class because of everything else that’s going on and because of my traveler’s itch and because of the dreaded still lives that never seem to end. I think maybe there is a cosmic urge to purge–purging is exactly what I just blogged about, too. Nice to know I’m not the only one :). I hope you are able to find a place where you can hold just the right amount of things to love.

  23. Anonymous

    Definitely. I’m an art major and am currently in a painting class. I absolutely love painting, but I haven’t been able to love this class because of everything else that’s going on and because of my traveler’s itch and because of the dreaded still lives that never seem to end. I think maybe there is a cosmic urge to purge–purging is exactly what I just blogged about, too. Nice to know I’m not the only one :). I hope you are able to find a place where you can hold just the right amount of things to love.

  24. Anonymous

    Definitely. I’m an art major and am currently in a painting class. I absolutely love painting, but I haven’t been able to love this class because of everything else that’s going on and because of my traveler’s itch and because of the dreaded still lives that never seem to end. I think maybe there is a cosmic urge to purge–purging is exactly what I just blogged about, too. Nice to know I’m not the only one :). I hope you are able to find a place where you can hold just the right amount of things to love.

  25. Anonymous

    Definitely. I’m an art major and am currently in a painting class. I absolutely love painting, but I haven’t been able to love this class because of everything else that’s going on and because of my traveler’s itch and because of the dreaded still lives that never seem to end. I think maybe there is a cosmic urge to purge–purging is exactly what I just blogged about, too. Nice to know I’m not the only one :). I hope you are able to find a place where you can hold just the right amount of things to love.

  26. Anonymous

    Definitely. I’m an art major and am currently in a painting class. I absolutely love painting, but I haven’t been able to love this class because of everything else that’s going on and because of my traveler’s itch and because of the dreaded still lives that never seem to end. I think maybe there is a cosmic urge to purge–purging is exactly what I just blogged about, too. Nice to know I’m not the only one :). I hope you are able to find a place where you can hold just the right amount of things to love.

  27. Anonymous

    Definitely. I’m an art major and am currently in a painting class. I absolutely love painting, but I haven’t been able to love this class because of everything else that’s going on and because of my traveler’s itch and because of the dreaded still lives that never seem to end. I think maybe there is a cosmic urge to purge–purging is exactly what I just blogged about, too. Nice to know I’m not the only one :). I hope you are able to find a place where you can hold just the right amount of things to love.

  28. Anonymous

    Definitely. I’m an art major and am currently in a painting class. I absolutely love painting, but I haven’t been able to love this class because of everything else that’s going on and because of my traveler’s itch and because of the dreaded still lives that never seem to end. I think maybe there is a cosmic urge to purge–purging is exactly what I just blogged about, too. Nice to know I’m not the only one :). I hope you are able to find a place where you can hold just the right amount of things to love.

  29. Anonymous

    Definitely. I’m an art major and am currently in a painting class. I absolutely love painting, but I haven’t been able to love this class because of everything else that’s going on and because of my traveler’s itch and because of the dreaded still lives that never seem to end. I think maybe there is a cosmic urge to purge–purging is exactly what I just blogged about, too. Nice to know I’m not the only one :). I hope you are able to find a place where you can hold just the right amount of things to love.

  30. Anonymous

    Definitely. I’m an art major and am currently in a painting class. I absolutely love painting, but I haven’t been able to love this class because of everything else that’s going on and because of my traveler’s itch and because of the dreaded still lives that never seem to end. I think maybe there is a cosmic urge to purge–purging is exactly what I just blogged about, too. Nice to know I’m not the only one :). I hope you are able to find a place where you can hold just the right amount of things to love.

  31. iliana

    Thank you for sharing. This was perfect.

  32. Mabelle

    Thank you for this great post. It has brought me great comfort knowing I’m not the only one feeling the same way. (I totally adore your blog!)

  33. tee

    thank you so much for putting this into words, andrea. i’ve been wanting/waiting (why?) to swiffer for a while now, and you’ve given me the incentive to go for it. so many things are about to change in the coming months for me and my family that i feel like i need to make space for them. today is the day.

  34. Michele

    YES– you’ve drawn all of the unexpressed sentiments out of my mind, body, and soul… UGH! I will sit here and enjoy the warmth of a delicious soy chai, and let work, school, relationships, BART, etc. melt into the ether. POOF!- Michele

  35. kat

    Andrea-
    Thank you for capturing exactly how I’ve been feeling recently. I’ve really been trying to let go, to simplify, to make the right connections and find the strength to release the wrong ones.
    It’s good to know we’re not alone in all of this.
    kat

  36. penelope

    Yes. T O T A L L Y. I feel like I can barely keep up right now. I’m with you on the brain swiffing too. I just cleared out all my closets and purged even the slightest thing I felt negative toward. It helped.
    I wish I had a week off to relax and read and sit somewhere quietly.

  37. stef

    YES, when I read your post and you were talking it felt like it was me in my head every day. I’ve felt the same way – wanting to purge, get rid of all the STUFF. Making room, room for me and my head.
    You hit the nail on the head about it all and you are so not alone.
    let’s all take a breather and be gentle with ourselves and others – knowing we all go through this and we need time, patience and love.
    xo
    Stef

  38. mr andrea lewis

    are you saying you are overwhelmed?
    if so, i understand.
    i fail to understand having too many things to love in any other context.
    if i feel overwhelmed, i drop things. then balance follows.

  39. Bianca

    Andrea,
    I feel you are not describing yourself, by my onw life right now!
    “Chaos” is everywhere, since I bought a house I can’t seem to fit into! Then, everything else seems to be pilling up on the corners of my world, pending mail, pending bills, Broken DSL lines (over and over again), dust, clutter and boxes.
    I could not agree more with what you said:
    “It amazes me that we create all of this amazing stuff: friendships, parties, art openings, vacations, work, and then we can feel so oppressed by them. Sometimes I feel like a prisoner of my own making, trapped by own self-made chaos. I get overwhelmed by all of things I’ve built, even if I love all those things. ”
    I’m craving for just a little bit of balance. There are continuos bad days, but then every now and then I have a great day – and then again tonight is time to go home and watch the Red Sox!
    Best wishes and best of luck to both of us!
    BBB

  40. tania

    wow, looks like alot of us agree! me too!
    your post really spoke to me today,
    thankyou.
    t

  41. Emily

    i feel you.
    i love you.
    i want you to know that there is infinite patience for you and your overwhelming time. i understand, and know that all your friends will still be here when you finally feel less cluttered.
    :-*
    xoxoxo
    eMiLy

  42. bluefaery

    Breathe. stop and breathe and it all makes sense!
    love bluefaery

  43. jenn

    and then, there’s the complete opposite – having not enough things to love. a job you can’t bring yourself to like, seemingly no hope of finding love, friends who seem to have vanished into the woodwork, and too much time on your hands. having an apartment that’s perfectly organized, with everything in its place and bills paid a month before they’re due doesn’t guarantee happiness, not in the least. having a lot of free time doesn’t either. revel in what you’ve got when you’ve got it and don’t sweat the small messy details.

  44. shokufeh

    I feel you. Big time. You put into words so well what I feel so often.

  45. stef

    all the time. but then i remember to stop and take stock of what truly matters. i play that “stuck on an island” game and imagine what i would hold on to if i was only given 3 things to keep. then i focus and celebrate those 3 things, only to be grateful that i have more than just those 3. 🙂
    the most impt thing to do when you’re overwhelmed, is to stop and breathe and feel the present.

  46. kim

    my very favorite float of all time including the santa claus parade was on pride day in toronto, the most normal looking smiling un over the top people on a float with a banner that said “Enjoy Your Life” and under that on the float identifying the group “the gay buddhists of greater toronto area”. i think the feeling of too muchness has a lot to do with ambition and speed. i say slow down and just be. easier said than done, maybe, but worth a try.

  47. crissy

    too many *hot wheels* to love… yes i feel you.
    at the moment, i am relating with being in grad school, and having all these wonderful reading to and writing to do and reflect on, and curious classmates to know, and great professors to be challenged by.
    it’s too much, and i have been feeling frustrated because i can’t give 100% to all of it.
    my mantra these days is: don’t try as hard.
    and it helps! i’m not doing less, i’m just doing it with a little more ease. {this is all tentative of course and may change at any minute!}
    ^_^

  48. kristin

    yes yes yes

  49. Katherine

    I dislike that chaotic, oppressive feeling of Doing so much that I tend to isolate myself, being quiet and hanging out at home with my kitties and my books and my writing and creative things. And then I get lonely and I come out and try to get involved in pretty world things and I just can’t deal with the intense stimulation. I sometimes think that one of the main reasons I love to read blogs – especilly yours and Keri’s and Ariel’s – is that you guys live busy, beautiful, active-in-the-world-creatively lives and I get to live a peek of it vicariously 🙂

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