Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Total Transformation

I instigated a total transformation over my Thanksgiving weekend. It started out simply with an idea to move some furniture in my apartment. I had one room that had lost all function and another that had taken on too many functions – so I ended up never do anything in it. I thought that if I switched a sofa and a big overstuffed chair – moving each to the room it currently wasn’t in - I could make the non-room into a living room and create more space in the other room for meditation, exercise and art. Seemed simple enough.

And my stepfather was kind enough to help out. The fact that I’d asked him for help was a miracle and a huge step for me. My stepfather is a generous, kind man who was more than happy to oblige, but I am nervous about putting my needs out there, always sure they will look ridiculous and unimportant once I give voice to them and this seemed so frivolous. Starving children, war, greed, and I want to redecorate.

But I am learning how to deal with those silly thoughts and carry on. Bits of me jump up and down saying, “Don’t ask, they’ll laugh! They won’t like you for bothering them.” And I say, “Shhhh, if they laugh, we’ll laugh too, then ask someone else.”

My silly bits say, “This won’t do any good. It’s such a little change.” And I say, “Shhh, if it’s a small change, it’ll be easy and if it doesn’t change anything, nothing is lost.”

They whisper, “It’ll hurt.”

And I take all my silly bits in my arms and say, “Shhhh, little silly bits, life hurts and life is wonderful. We will get through it all together.”


I used to think of goals as something to achieve. You decided what you wanted and then broke down the necessary steps, did them in order and voila! you achieved your goal. But that’s not how the cool goals work. The cool goals are goals you can’t imagine. I want to love living. But I don’t know what that’s like. I’ve never particularly wanted to live. But when things get bad, I pull myself up out of the muck with the determination to figure this puzzle out. How does one love to live? I can’t break down the steps to this goal. I can just keep remembering this is what I want and keep choosing to do things that have a chance in hell of moving me towards this thing I cannot yet comprehend. The cool goals like this are dreams.

So we moved the furniture. The big chair, which I thought would be the problem, moved so easily we got cocky. Now all we had was the sofa and that had gotten into the room, so we could get it back out, right? We pushed and turned, tried it this way, turned it over and tried again. Maybe this way, push it up and then to the left. Take the casters off, now the closet door. And don’t worry about the wall. I have to patch the hole made when we moved the sofa into the room… Oh yeah, it was rather difficult to do that, wasn’t it? Funny how you don’t remember those things years later.

I spent Sunday moving about the furniture I had left, the stuff I could move on my own. I tried this arrangement and that. I finally admitted I just had to get rid of the old, huge, color t.v. and the too low coffee table that was really a leftover from an old, cheaply made futon set. I discovered that the drop-leaf table worked better on the other side of the room than where I’d planned because now I can sit at my easel or turn a few degrees and have a large flat space. I discovered that the side tables from my grandmother’s bedroom set make perfect little altars with drawers for holding replacement candles, incense, matches. And I learned that my teak standing screen looks amazing with my dracaena and big chair in front of it. I mean like really amazing, like I’m going to take a picture and submit it to a design blog ‘cause this can’t be my house can it?

If you had told me last week, “Just switch the sofa and the big chair and you will create a space of beauty that can serve your quest for a life well loved,” I would have said, “Well, it’s something to do anyway,” but I would not have believed you.

On Monday, I sat in my new beautiful room, candles lit, checking in with myself, whispering to my old gods and holding my desire in my hand like a precious gem. I could not imagine when I started this little project that I would end up with this room. I realized that this is the small favor I asked of my stepdad. This was the plan that seemed so unformed, frivolous, and potentially disastrous. I could not have imagined this room, could not have set this room as a goal. In a million years or randomly setting and achieving goals I would sooner write a King Lear than aim for this room. And yet, here I am in a place of my own making, one step closer to my dream.


Magaly Guerrero said...

The best things in live, or great ones at least, get to us when we are least expecting them. I'm glad you are "one step closer to [your] dream".

Yvonne Rathbone said...

Ah, non-expectance, a good practice.

Albiana said...

You said: "And I take all my silly bits in my arms and say, 'Shhhh, little silly bits, life hurts and life is wonderful. We will get through it all together.'"

And I say: You know, I kinda love your silly bits and the bits that hugged them all the more for sharing this blog with such tenderness and humor. Too often we worry so much about what others think that we sacrifice ourselves too much, in ways great and small. Each sacrifice has its toll no matter what.

Good on you for being brave. Even these small advances mean a lot for your own well-being. You do deserve them.

Yvonne Rathbone said...

@Albiana: Thank you! I used to think that those silly bits were things to be gotten rid of. They are not. They are very, very precious, even if they are also a pain in the ass sometimes. A bit like cats, really.