I am in my new apartment, surrounded by boxes, bags and bins, finding new bruises on my arms and legs from the move and discovering sore muscles where I never before knew muscles existed. Outside my office window is a cottonwood tree, a member of the willow family which has spiritual significance for me, and I have discovered the place I was planning to put my altar faces true north. Life is good.
Yet, now comes the strange and surreal process of unpacking my life. Of looking at my belongings in a new light, and their use according to a new environment. Of seeking out and making offerings to the spirits of the land. Of learning to find my way to the bathroom in the dark of night.
I feel a little bit like Pandora opening the pithos and having all these unbidden things come flooding out. Pandora has been debated for years. What is the meaning of her story? Why release pain and hold onto hope? If what she releases is evil, then why is All-Gifted (Pandora) also known as She Who Sends Up Gifts (Anesidora)?
This morning as I open boxes whose contents I no longer recall, I want to say it’s because the crap that happens to us, good or bad, makes us who we are. If we are strong it’s because our past crafted strength within us. If we are compassionate it is because experience has molded us into someone kind and understanding. Perhaps our virtues are the result of good fortune, but how much more often they are the result of misfortune, trial and pain?
Every box I open in this empty space, this tabula rasa, reawakens memories. A failed marriage. A job lost. The time I got lost and ended up on my sisters sofa. The time I lay in bed crying, reading fantasy novels as I detoxed from prescription drugs that were causing problems. The times I spoke softly to a lover on the phone. The rituals that lifted my spirits and healed my soul. Friends that came to my rescue when I needed a helping hand.
The gifts in our lives are not always obvious. They don’t come wrapped in ribbons. They are not always sweet. Sometimes they are ensconced in virtue. Sometimes they are shrouded in dishonor. They are often invisible to everyone but yourself. Only you know the stories, the inner transformations, the dents, the scrapes and the polish that has gone into your life. As much as it makes my joints and bones grumble after a long weekend of being on the go, it feels good to unpack my life. It’s good to remember the road that led me here.
And now, simply because I feel like it, here is some Rascal Flatts: