I recently moved to a new apartment even further downtown than my previous two places. These new digs place me almost squarely on top of my favorite pho restaurant, in the heart of Chinatown.
Whilst moving, I was overcome by the people who showed up to help. Only one of the invitees I asked did so (unwaveringly, even showing up first at 9am after a night of drinking), and the other primary “lifter” was an old friend who, get this, volunteered to help.
While I feel truly blessed these two gents are in my life, I was a little perturbed at the number of people I had to enlist to help with my belongings. Considering myself a minimalist, I was horrified at the seemingly endless parade of boxes that left my small 10 x 10 room. Granted, much of it was clothing, but a large portion was stuff that I even never wore anymore (due to it being too big or too small), yet they were all reminders of someone I used to be: I’ve often kept things as a physical manifestation of another part of my life, but never 100% sure why.
I realize now that it’s because they were memories of myself in what I thought were “happier” times.
This isn’t the case, or not for the most part. Instead, they were times when I was definitely not happier at all.. in fact, I was probably miserable, given the amount of drugs I was into at the time – it’s that I was oblivious to even wanting to improve myself.. they were memories of when I was a 20-something year old, feeling impervious to time, invincible, and striving to strike out on my own as a young, independent adult.
And now, some 15 years later, these mementoes are littered in the bottom of a shoebox, or worse: a huge pile of clothing I can’t seem to rid myself of. All this time has passed, and I’m still somewhat reliant on the family I felt strangled by growing up, still attached to their lives as much as they are to mine. I’ll admit that after moving boxes of this “stuff” into my new space, I was easily able to get rid of a number of things that had been impossible only hours before in my old apartment. While the old adage states that “no matter where you go, there you are”, I’m always amazed at how much of a fresh perspective, how renewed in spirit I am when inhabiting new spaces, as I make them my own
I’m not sure what makes me compare my own path to that of my father’s, but nevertheless, it’s a pretty constant measure. As I consider it, how he moved to Canada with his wife and young child some 30+ years ago, I’ve always been amazed at how strong and confident he must have been in his convictions that the Great White North might furnish his new family with all their hopes and dreams. Over the last few years, as he’s retired and softened somewhat (much less the stone-hearted Brit of a man he once was), I’m chagrined to learn that he often feels as lost as I do, that he’s not sure if he made the right choice all those years ago.
While it’s somewhat comforting to know that he’s humbling as he grows old, it also causes a shift in the foundations that I have built beneath my feet. This man, whom I hold the highest regard as my life long hero, suddenly as vulnerable as a small child. The duality of my feelings towards this fragility is perhaps even more so destabilizing due to the confliction of it’s nature. One part is pleased to know that he’s human, that he questions his existence and purpose as much as I, and the other part, well.. The other part of me is scared to know the exact same things.
As I continue on this journey into myself, I find my closest companion is my own identity. It’s comforting to start becoming best friends with yourself.