I am throwing stuff out...lots of stuff. I know it is risky. One of the warning signs of suicide is giving away prized possessions. And some of these are prized possessions. Dozens of oil paintings. Dozens of photographs, matted and framed. Watercolor prints, matted and framed. Boxes of them. These represent stages of my life and my creative endeavors during those times. All failed attempts to share my creativity. These pieces of artwork have languished in gift shops, craft fairs, and on restaurant walls. I even have many of them posted on the internet. www.flickr.com/photos/kitsy_1955/
These items are doing no one any good in boxes or piles in the basement. And, yes, I am aware that it is a cardinal sin to give away (or lower your price on) something you have previously sold. So sue me. What is more, they remind me of my failures, my manic efforts with perhaps unrealistic expectations, and a lot of money ill spent.
So out they go to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and the dump. A lot of that stuff represents what I ought to have been. Getting rid of it is, in that way, liberating. No more should's or ought's. But it brings up the question, "What the hell am I, if not an artist?"
My mother was an artist. She always took home first prize in the local art show because her style was so unique. She was also a hoarder, not so much like what you see on TV but a hoarder of memorabilia, dishes, pots and pans, furniture, newspaper clippings, books, and her art. She was also bipolar and obese. When she died, the minister struggled to find something positive to say about her life. He focused on her outlook, that her hoarding was an indication that she felt she would live forever, that she looked to eternity. Whatever.
I am not sure what I am doing this for...this clearing out. I do not want to be a hoarder. I know I have, at best, 20-25 years left to live. I have no thoughts toward living forever. Perhaps I did once. Not any more. Furthermore, I no longer want to be burdened by unimportant options like knitting and sewing. But where will it end? How will it end? What gets to stay?
This morning I was pulling out the camping gear. I loved camping as a child. Unfortunately, because of my mother's condition, camping was a chaotic affair with lots of blankets and sheets of clear plastic. After my husband left, when my children were still young, I built a camping system of matching, hard case boxes filled with everything we would want on a camping trip: cast iron frying pans, enameled plates and mugs, table cloths, matching dish towels, candles, enamel-handled flatware, clothes lines, tarps, lanterns, a cook stove, the whole nine yards. There are sleeping bags, mats, folding chairs, tents, and a car-top carrier to carry it all in. It was used maybe once or twice.
Pulling it out this morning, I was overcome with incredible sadness. I had put such hope and happiness into those hard case boxes. Clearly, I was manic at the time and had disposable income. But, more than that, I had a vision of happiness for my children. By God, I was going to give them the experience that brought me such joy, with or without the help of another adult. Sadly, it was more than I could handle. Camping was very difficult for my daughter. She did not like it. My son did not like it, either, at the time. He has since been through Boy Scouts and camps with his friends.
In fact, it was my son who saw I was so distraught this morning, and pulled me out of the dive, offering that we can go camping, once it warms up a bit.
So, I have put on the brakes a bit. The treadmill and workout equipment stay. The gardening tools stay, I think. The paper making supplies, I'm not sure. The grill/smoker, we'll see. The darkroom equipment stay, for now.
In other words, it is not over. There is plenty left to attach me to this earth with hopeful expectations.
I am not an expert on bipolar disorder... I just live with it. This is my blog of hope and encouragement.