Sometimes we overstay.
The tea kettle clinks and whirs in my left ear. I glance up at the true height of those books on the shelf above my head. They pull my eyes from the laptop screen in front of me every few sentences or so whispering: it is time. The tea kettle whistles.
My line of action forms a little more clearly— the library must go.
A lot of my friends ask me why I choose to carry real books on tour; using an iPad would be a lot easier since I travel so much. My response is always the same: I love the comfort of holding a real book in my hands. But lately this feels more like a broken excuse. It feels like something I used to believe in.
When did the things that have always brought me freedom begin to feel so limiting?
The weight of all that I own is easily split into 25 percent clothing and 75 percent books. At first, I enjoyed owning my very own traveling library. But now, as I sit here typing with 75 percent of my life staring at me, all I can think is: this is getting out of hand.
If I lived in a real house with rich, oak bookshelves in every room, floating ledges along the stairs, and potted, hanging plants in every corner, this would not be an issue—my home life in no way looks like this. My life is a 350-square foot apartment in Japan. I live in a new place every two months. The traveling library isn’t fun anymore; I am not free. It has to go.
When does a passion turn into a hindrance instead of a release? When does it start pulling us down instead of helping us glide through life, riding the wave?
Yes, I love books, but I can let them go. I can retell this part of who I am. I will survive as a woman who reads e-books. What about the other stories we tell ourselves though? We tend to hold on to dead versions of our lives. We forget that maybe they have nothing to do with our current truths anymore. We can ask these questions and apply them to deeper, more fundamental aspects of our lives.
This is all about creating more space. We are allowed to retell our stories at any point as the facts in our lives change. It is only a matter of checking in and catching up with what is actually true.
The mindful life can be a guide for this check-in. It asks us to see things as they actually are. What does freedom look and feel like for each of us?
For me, I visualize myself on bright day out in a wide, open field. I visualize the people and objects in my life that bring me joy and purpose. I let them into my space. I continue letting things into my space. When I notice a sense of crowding in my freedom, I stare it down. What is the next right thing to do? The plot thickens.
Sometimes we turn away from feelings. We ignore the library that has outgrown its home. We let those flags turn deeper shades of red. Decay builds here.
How do we remove decay and constriction after ignoring it and letting it build? We invite it in. We have tea with it. We talk it out, and we awaken our freedom. This is the story of our internal lives catching up with our external lives. We always have a choice to remove what no longer serves us.
So are we staying, or are we leaving? Do we keep it, or do we let it go?
Sometimes it is not so simple. Especially, during these times in our modern world. Some of us do not have the luxury or the access to our natural born freedoms and choices. The choice to stay together or be torn apart can feel nonexistent. It can seem like we have zero control.
Remember this: there are ways to create more space. We always have a choice to go in and clean house. We always have a choice to show up clear-eyed and fresh-faced for the world today. This might look like forfeiting a home library to fit in the already limited spaces of a traveling show. It might look like finally forgiving ourselves for that thing that happened forever ago.
It does not matter what it looks like. It is more about the feeling of release.
How free are we really?
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