Ice on Bedside Window
A Nebulous Number of Days of Atomity and Memory
I had long been hatching an escape plan from my administrative career and it preceded the pandemic by at least a year and a half. The universe had been screaming at me loudly for some time and, in my body, that showed up as chronic feelings of physical unwellness. For the last several years I was on a highly limited diet because almost everything I ate, other than some vegetables, led to severe flus or migraines that landed me in bed, almost immobile, and horizontal for several days at a time, sometimes more than once in a month.
The causes of this poor state of well-being were obvious to me – I was not being creative, i.e., writing, and stacked on top of that, two of my closest family members, my elder brother and mother were simultaneously transitioning – and their suffering was unbearable to witness. Moreover, I am an empath and hadn’t yet developed any tools to differentiate other people’s energy from my own. So, as much as I wanted to be a loving and emotionally supportive care-giver to my family, I would return home after visits feeling fully drained and ill myself. But I just couldn’t seem to extricate myself from a life over-flowing with activity, nor did I seek the stillness that might heal me.
The final 9-to-5ish job of my career had given me great satisfaction on many levels and I was employed in a workplace that included a close relationship with a conscious executive, who outside of the healers with whom I have worked, was one of the most evolved human beings that has ever crossed my trail. But when my elder brother passed, I was triggered to finally rearrange my life and make space for grief and more profound introspection. I was also strongly driven to spend more time with my declining mother, but I was not up for the habitual feeling of exhaustion that that would entail if I continued working. My only option was to leave my job before ‘official’ retirement age.
Regretfully, my mother transitioned before I early-retired, just a little more than a year after my brother had passed. And then two weeks after laying my mother’s body to rest, we were in the throes of a worldwide pandemic and our first lockdown. It wasn’t the scenario I envisioned for my return to a ‘place of zen.’ Instead, I was surrounded by chaos, information overload, fear, sensory deprivation, perpetual uncertainty, and an inability to travel or participate in all the physical and cultural activities I loved so much and thought were essential to my existence.
To my surprise, as social isolation continued, I started to feel I was pre-programmed for this new world of seclusion. It crossed my mind that perhaps I had lived in some kind of monastic setting in a previous life – I adapted much more quickly and with much less resistance than most people I knew to the new solitude and without feeling claustrophobic in my residential footprint of 350 square feet. I had lived on my own for more than two decades and I relished the efficiency and warmth of the current space in which I had been living for more than a dozen years.
Most of the people with whom I have journeyed in my adult life find my ability to live in such small quarters unfathomable. It is a group of souls who, for the most part, live in a state of financial abundance and space is often equated with success. But I was not a stranger to living in much larger dwellings. I grew up in a sprawling rural century home with some acreage, and when I moved to the country’s largest metropolitan centre, around the age of 25, within a matter of years I was living in a five-bedroom home in a prime gentrified neighbourhood.
Subsequently, I experienced an Eat, Pray, Love type of scenario where I left a relationship in which I was financially secure but spiritually bankrupt to begin again, almost from scratch. And just for fun, I did that a second time after leaving a subsequent long-term relationship about ten years later. Within a few years of the second down-sizing, I relinquished even more belongings and square footage when I realized I had miscalculated my budget and, in order to pay my bills and maintain a positive cash flow, I would have to work a second and even a third job. I moonlighted for several years and I was exhausted all the time. All in all, it had taken me three attempts to learn the lesson that having a picture-perfect grand home in a desirable neighbourhood was not contributing to living an authentic life, nor was my soul being nourished.
That brings me back to the pandemic and living an already simplified existence in terms of worldly belongings. In the most recent three moves, I had either sold or given away most of my perceived prized possessions and what I was left with is more of an impression of a lifetime of accumulated articles. What remains is what is most meaningful to me, but I am again preparing to part with more. I have been pondering a post-pandemic renovation of my modest home and am planning to declutter to make even more efficient use of my space.
It is this journey of disentangling myself from materialism that is the inspiration of my blog series A Nebulous Number of Days of Atomity and Memory. In the last few months, I have been scrutinizing everything in my space with a more discerning eye – but not simply because of future renovation plans and not only because we’re in another period of strict lockdown. I have, after all these years of seeking, finally regularized my meditation practice and on most days spend an hour or more in silent and guided meditation. My third eye chakra now tingles when I bring attention to it and I have started to notice a similar sensation at my crown chakra on occasion. I am remembering things long forgotten. I am noticing things in my home I have not truly seen in many years, and I find myself being delighted and awed at the simplest of observations.
As a result, I have been guided to share this series of essays about observation and memory. With each instalment of the series, I will include an image or two of my atomized world and reveal the recollections or contemplation which have been revived or triggered. In short, these episodes will be an encounter of an introspective and very personal kind.
In fondest remembrance of my late brother Zenon, mother Paulina, father Bohdan. I am grateful for their guidance from the other side. And in deepest gratitude to my brother Andy who keeps me grounded on this plane from this plane.