Monday, July 11, 2011

To begin again



Getting a fresh start - is there such a thing? Some Buddhists think we have a brand new chance to begin again, moment to moment. I've read that some people believe there is no past, no future, just now. It's a romantic idea that seems only to be true for amnesiacs. Memory is history, after all.

I'm not arguing with the Buddhists, by the way. I really love the idea that we can make choices about what to do or not do, moment to moment. We can realize all our power to live, move and be when conscious of what is ongoing right now, and right now, and right now. That's why I meditate every morning, to practice being present. But the past DOES exist; we bring it with us. Our memories are part of the beautiful complexity of the world. Who was it who said that thing about how, if we don't remember, we are bound to repeat our mistakes?

OK. True, that - but still sometimes I wish for a fresh start, clean and clear of all historical baggage. Wouldn't that be something? I yearn, at times, to be able to re-start my mind in the same way I re-start the laptop after updating software, for instance. Ahhhh ... free at last! This, too, is a romantic idea.

I'm thinking about it today because I'm going to begin cleaning the kitchen this morning before I go to work. My goal is to clean away every hint that Rat was ever a part of that space. I will scour the surfaces on which he tread with environmentally destructive cleaners (usually I use Mrs. Meyers for everything, but a more heroic effort is required for this job). I will toss out the trap called "The Jaw" (the one he figured out was too dangerous.) I will cleanse, vacuum, mop. I will wipe down the shelves in the cabinets, empty the fridge of all the old condiments, etc. (though he was never in the fridge). I'm going to clean the hell out of the kitchen, I tell you!

When I'm finished, I'll burn white sage to cleanse the energy, then sweetgrass to bring a soft balance to the room. I'll ring my Tibetan bowl and few times, shake my rattle, then play some classical music to smooth and settle the energy.

After that, we'll see how long it takes me to feel good in the kitchen, how much time must pass before I actually want to cook again. I've been eating take-out, going to restaurants, doing the bare minimum in the kitchen because I was so aghast, so completely repulsed, by the presence of Rat.

I don't want to lose all my memories! Many are so wonderful; I treasure much of what I remember. There are also memories that help me learn, even some of the unpleasant ones are reminders of what NOT to do. But the memory of Rat? If I could selectively re-start my mind, that memory would be top on the list to go out with the trash. Oh yeah.

14 comments:

SG said...

It is difficult to start completely afresh, unless you have lost your entire memory. You cannot wish away who you are. And people do not change into completely new people overnight. At least, I can't. But as a concept, even I like that idea. I have tried to run with it a few times, but then realized that I work better with acceptance of who I am and what I feel in the first place, and then work on changing things bit by bit.

I do hope that the Rat memory fades out soon enough to make you feel better in the kitchen!

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh yeah!!

ellen abbott said...

That's what being a river guide was all about for me. My 'real' life was a misery and I wanted to be someone else if only for a little while. And it worked. I would leave all that behind and go be with people who only knew me in that context, people who did not know any of my baggage, people who were there for the same reason, to just be in the moment.

Reya Mellicker said...

No wonder your stories and sketches from that time period are so beautiful, Ellen.

Maybe on one of my mini-holidays this summer I'll leave Rat behind. I can hope.

Nancy said...

Oh no. I need to go back and catch up. Rat..??

jeanette from everton terrace said...

It's probably easier for me to continually be starting fresh because it feels every day I remember less and less :)

Cyndy said...

That sounds like a great idea to me - make your kitchen so that it was as if he was never there and you won't have to experience that displeasure any more! Although I might be tempted to clean the trap and place it threateningly back there in the dark recesses of your cabinet, just in case.

cs said...

Rats. I'm not a fan at all. We never had one in our house, but living in Adams Morgan they were everywhere outside it. Those nasty buggers would come up on the back deck and look in the kitchen. Good luck with your cleansing!

steven said...

when i was very little my mummy and daddy lived in a house attached to a bakery and a trucker's restaurant. our house ran with cockroaches and mice and the occasional rat. the town council would take care of things every so often with traps and big clouds of chemicals.
when i leave a world - work, marriage, friends, a city - i begin again as new as the past and the future will let me be. the responsibility for that lies entirely with me. how available can i be to the future? how much can i learn from the past?
i love the photograph of the mirroring curlicue gate tops. one rests in darkness while the other rests in light. steven

Reya Mellicker said...

CS - oh yeah. Rat, the one who visited here, was a genius. I believe you that they checked out the kitchen. It's very creepy.

tut-tut said...

remember; there're cherries . . .

Reya Mellicker said...

Ha. Beth ... I'm baking a cherry pie tomorrow, no matter what!

Pauline said...

Even when you update a computer and restart, you've just added to what was already there.

I'm with Cyndy - keep that trap as a reminder (and perhaps a necessity). Don't try to forget Rat entirely, just put him in his place, which is NOT your place. Don't picture him in your kitchen, picture him leaving. If memories intrude and give you the willies, set your kitchen timer for 3 minutes, and shudder like crazy. Then you can remind yourself the next time you're compelled to think of him, that you've already shuddered over Rat and you don't have to anymore.

Reya Mellicker said...

Pauline! That's exactly how I break my habit of anxiety, but allowing myself to freak out for a period of time, after which I have to stop.

The trap went out with the trash yesterday. Ready to launch into a cleaning frenzy on this hot, hot morning in DC.