Thursday, April 08, 2010

Renewal is a lot of work

The problem with making something better is that you have to begin by sorting through exactly what you have now. And that's so much work. It seems much easier to have someone package it all up and move it all to new storage than to sort through, piece by piece, to discover what you love, what is broken, what is no longer useful (but might be useful to somebody else).

Of course, I'm talking about your house.

In my house, we have hired people to gut our kitchen and install a new one. We are not doing the heavy lifting. In the kitchen.

But the kitchen gut required room. The house has steadfastly refused to change shape or grow, so moving anything (like the contents of the kitchen) requires moving other things to create space. We have been creating space by sorting through twenty years of assorted activity, carting some of it out in garbage bins or trips to a reuse centre, and storing lots of it in neat new stacks of neat new containers. There has been dust. There has been some heavy lifting. There have been a few treasures and a few regrets.

I hope the regrets were all swept away with the garbage. But I suspect a few will gather dust in deep dark corners until the next time we force ourselves to sort and gather and purge. I suspect that along with the treasures, I have kept a few things with sharp edges and a tendency to suddenly poke me in a soft part of my past.

Renewal takes sweat and blood and the courage to acknowledge that there are pieces of our past we can give up and some that we need - especially because their edges are sharp and they poke us unexpectedly. It also takes time and resources and a willingness to stay home for long stretches when home is not a comfortable place to be.

Is it worth it? I guess that depends on whether you are satisfied working around the accumulated clutter of a past that works almost well enough.

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