Revisiting the past

Mike recently changed jobs. With this change, he will be working from home a couple of day each week.  Therefore, he needed a space in the house where he could do his work without too many distractions. The most logical space was the room I had been using as “my” office and where all the “stuff” we’d collected had been put for the past 3 years. As you can imagine, the room needed some spring-cleaning and reorganization.

A little bit into the process, I realized this was similar to when a couple decides to move into together, except, we were not blinded by the magic of love and the excitement of a new relationship. We have had 14 years of experience together to cloud this process, or perhaps illuminate it; it depends on where you are standing. At first, I started to clear away all my stuff, allowing Mike space for his work. Then all of sudden I realized, Mike had most of the work area and I had very little. I guess I was overcompensating, trying to be generous and welcoming. Afterall, I did think of it as my space for 3 years. So then, I started to think about our needs, perceived and real, separated and shared space.  What we needed to do first was to decide if anything could be discarded and where to put all the items that were in the boxes all over the room. We had 2 file cabinets with a total of 7 drawers to divide up between the 2 of us and our stuff, 2 bookcases, and lots of wall space. Therefore, it was definitely workable.

So, we both dove the stuff that we had been accumulating for decades and simply moved from home to home. Sure, we had pared down with each move, but you never know when some of these interesting articles, maps, or lessons would come in handy. I have to admit, I love strolling down memory lane and perhaps keep things that should have been discarded a long time ago, but some things remain fascinating for decades. It is also incredibly interesting to remember who we were and reflect on any philosophical changes we have had over the years. I came across many interesting articles and truthfully still could not release some. In the late 1990s, I was very interested in developing a barter system in the HudsonValley. I met with a group of people and we researched other barter systems around the world. One of those systems was “Ithaca Dollars.” It was one of the first times I had ever heard of Ithaca, NY. Who would have thought I would end up living here a little over a decade later? (Side note: Ithaca Dollars is still alive but not thriving, apparently most of the Ithaca Dollars end up with merchants and do not flow back into the consumer’s hands.)

Before the advent of Facebook and email, people shared interesting quotes and cartoons via the mail (aka snail mail) or on refrigerators or bulletin boards in homes and offices. It was very exciting when the copy man came to fix the copier at work ~ he always had something new to share, usually about the hassles of working with idiots. I have always been a big fan of sharing what I believed to be thought provoking quotes or funny cartoons, posting them in my room and then my office when I joined the workforce. When I changed jobs, I would put them into a folder to post again or simply to keep. It was so interesting to reread these quotes and passages that I gathered over 30 years, and to realize that most of them still stir emotions inside me to this day; others are simply reminders to cherish life. What I found rather amazing is that some of the stuff from the 80s is still circulating, but now on Facebook. Here are two of my all time favorites.

 I hope there’s a pandemic soon.

And then there is the An Eschatological Laundry List by Sheldon Kopp

  1. This is it.

  2. There are no hidden meanings.

  3. You can’t get there from here, and besides there is no place to go.

  4. We are already dying, and we’ll be dead a long time.

  5. Nothing lasts!

  6. There is no way of getting all you want.

  7. You can’t have anything unless you let go of it.

  8. You only get to keep what you give away.

  9. There is no particular reason why you lost out on some things.

  10. The world is not necessarily just. Being good often does not pay off and there’s no compensation for misfortune.

  11. You have the responsibility to do your best nonetheless.

  12. It’s a random universe to which we bring meaning.

  13. You really don’t control anything.

  14. You can’t make anyone love you.

  15. No one is any stronger or any weaker than anyone else.

  16. Everyone is, in his own way, vulnerable.

  17. There are no great men.

  18. If you have a hero, look again; you have diminished yourself in some way.

  19. Everyone lies, cheats, pretends. (yes, you too, and most certainly myself.)

  20. All evil is potentially vitality in need of transformation.

  21. All of you is worth something if you will only own it.

  22. Progress is an illusion.

  23. Evil can be displaced but never eradicated, as all solutions breed new problems.

  24. Yet it is necessary to keep struggling toward solution.

  25. Childhood is a nightmare.

  26. But it is so very hard to be an on-your-own, take-care-of-yourself-cause-there-is-no-one-else-to-do-it-for-you grown-up.

  27. Each of us is ultimately alone.

  28. The most important things each man must do for himself.

  29. Love is not enough, but it sure helps.

  30. We have only ourselves, and one another. That may not be much, but that’s all there is.

  31. How strange, that so often, it all seems worth it.

  32. We must live within the ambiguity of partial freedom, partial power, and partial knowledge.

  33. All important decisions must be made on the basis of insufficient data.

  34. Yet we are responsible for everything we do.

  35. No excuses will be accepted.

  36. You can run, but you can’t hide.

  37. It is most important to run out of scapegoats.

  38. We must learn the power of living with our helplessness.

  39. The only victory lies is in surrender to oneself.

  40. All of the significant battles are waged within the self.

  41. You are free to do whatever you like. You need only face the consequences.

  42. What do you know for sure…anyway?

  43. Learn to forgive yourself, again and again and again and again.

Sorry for the tangent, just couldn’t help myself. Our home office is really taking shape and this week Mike and I were able to work in it (at different times of course) with no problems so far. I suspect we did a fairly decent job of creating a space for each other. I also hung up a couple of  my thought provoking quotes to boot.