Rearranging: Embracing Impermanence and Letting Go

I like to rearrange, change, reconstruct, and readjust.

I do it all the time.

Why in the past four years I’ve shaved my head bald twice.  I’m talking Buddha bald. Just. Like. That.

I gained eighty pounds, hiding my once thin frame which garnered me more than a few looks, with extra soft flesh. Just. Like. That.

The former blog I spent three years creating with love, sweat, and tears – the very thing which helped me get through my divorce – I deleted. Just. Like. That.

Love letters from my ex-husband that were my tether to possibility, two years worth of love letters I held onto as a drowning person does drift wood, thrown into the fire. Just. Like. That.

Pictures of that other life – complete with a mother and a father, a husband and a wife – I threw on top of the burning love letters. Just. Like. That.

I said goodbye to my children, the sole purpose of my existence, and sent them to another woman without creating guilt or conflict within them (by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done). Not quite “Just. Like. That.” but close enough.

When I rearrange I let go and letting go is the way I stay sane, the way I remember who I am. My identity is not attached to my hair, my weight, my role as wife, or my role as mother.

I was not always good at rearranging and able to embrace the changing. Before my divorce my identity was attached to material things (house, husband, children, hair, body) or ideas related to material things (middle class, wife, mother, beautiful). But when my ex-husband left all of that disappeared. Just. Like. That.

I found myself teetering on insanity no longer knowing who I was. Nights I would spend lying next to my two-year-old daughter as she slept blissfully, reciting my name over and over in the quiet darkness, terrified I would fall into the abyss of nothingness.

It took years but, by the grace of God, I managed to inch away from the edge and find solid ground to stand on, only now the solid ground or foundation is found not on the outside in impermanent material things or ideas, but it is found within me.

So that I never forget, I continue to make myself rearrange things. Whether it is something as minor as the dishes in the kitchen cabinets or something a little more meaningful like donating baby clothes I held onto for my future grandchildren (future grandchildren that are not guaranteed), I purposefully and intentionally let go.

It reminds me of the Buddhist sand mandala. Days of painstaking creation ending with a breathtaking piece of art only to be dismantled. Why? To remind us of the transitory nature of life and the impermanence of material things and ideas.

As the trees can testify, with their leaves falling once more to blanket the earth with color, it is a good thing to remember.

“Wisdom, Happiness, and Courage are not waiting somewhere out beyond sight at the end of a straight line; they’re part of a continuous cycle that begins right here. They’re not only the ending, but the beginning as well.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

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