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A while ago, I read a writing prompt.
It was here, on Elephant Journal.
“What’s on your walls right now, and who or what inspires your life—and why?”
My answer was simple—I thought.
In the living room, I have a beautiful piece of art my boyfriend made for me and an imperfect Buddha that I painted for myself. In the hallway, there are various animal and Pokémon creations produced by my children.
There is a dreamcatcher on my bedroom wall.
I have a few pieces of homemade artwork on my walls.
I am inspired by love.
Except it’s not. Not to an overthinker like me.
I don’t have many hooks, so technically, only those few pieces are actually on the walls. Yet there are so many photographs and mementos scattered around my apartment, unattached.
Even my mirrors are propped up against the walls.
I would like to have more artfully arranged photos and paintings hanging up, and some trailing plants on my balcony. I’d love to have my mirrors attached so that I don’t have to live in fear of the cats knocking them down. I yearn to be creative and make my space my own.
I can’t though because I don’t want to put new hooks in the walls.
On the practical side, I guess it’s because I am scared to damage the walls. I have always lived in rental accommodation.
I’ve moved around a lot.
Since leaving my parents’ home, there have been 22 different sets of walls around me.
If you never know for sure how long you’ll stay, what is the point in making any place really your own?
One summer many years ago, when I was a teenager, I had some counseling. During one of our sessions, she asked me to draw a picture—any picture—to symbolize myself.
I drew a purple flower.
She asked me what was missing from it.
I checked it over. It had petals and leaves, a stalk, and a stigma.
Nothing was missing.
Oh, but something was missing! She sat waiting for me to realize what.
I didn’t, and she had to tell me.
My flower had no roots.
As realization hit me, she smiled. I smiled too, but I felt nervous. I didn’t understand why I should have to draw the roots if they are hidden under the ground.
You can’t even see them.
I didn’t say any of that though.
Instead, we talked about roots and how important they are. They pull water and nutrients from the soil into the plant so that the flower can bloom. They anchor the flower to the ground. They secure it so it doesn’t fly away with the wind.
My emotions fly around with the wind.
You can’t really see them either.
I don’t really know how or where to anchor them.
Even in times of stability, I prepare myself for the possibility of having to leave whatever situation I’m in.
I live in fight-or-flight mode.
What if my landlord asks us to leave?
I’ve played out that scenario.
What if my boyfriend decides to leave me?
I’ve played out that scenario.
What if I lose my job?
I play out every scenario.
Putting roots down is scary.
Being torn out of the ground hurts.
I think about all my pictures and paintings, made with love by people I love. They are not all firmly attached—even the ones with hooks are easily freed, and that means I can bring them to anywhere I may go.
Love doesn’t need to be held down; it exists with or without attachment.
I will not let go.
It is my anchor.
It always has been.
I just couldn’t see it.
I guess I am a little afraid of attachment.
But I am not afraid of love.