On our mad dash across the country Kassia and I took a slight detour to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This is where she grew up and where her mother and step-father still live. In early March there was still 3 ft of snow on the ground. But for just a three day visit the novelty didn't wear off, and there was a stillness and silence from the snow that I relished (especially after two manic days of driving from Virginia.)
Part of our visit to the great, frozen north was for Kassia to organize her worldly belongings. She left Twin Oaks with 4 or 5 boxes and bags - more than was feasible to carry during our travels between there and Portland. These 4 or 5 joined about 15 more that she'd been gradually sending home over the last 8 years.
It was an immensity of stuff. When all had been brought up from the basement, out from the car, and laid across the living room floor, well, there wasn't much floor left. Miraculously, between Kassia, her mother, and I we managed to cull through and repack this mountain of personal materials in one day.
Kassia's step-father, Dana, shared with us a perfect poem for the occasion. A poem of his creation, it summed up the experience perfectly. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share it. Dana wrote to me, "I am a little concerned that once I let it up on the web that it is gone forever and I'll never make the million dollars I expect to make on my poems someday. I suppose as long as I am credited and I'll put copyright on the bottom, as if that will do any good. I haven't distributed it anywhere yet, but I have thought about it."
So, the world debut of a poem I think we can all intimately relate to.
Getting Rid of Stuff
Stuff gotten rid of is stuff fulfilled.
Stuff is what we’ve got too much of.
It’s refreshing to purge possession
Of things saved
Ten or twenty years,
Hardly or never looked at again.
Things for which their worth
Has long since been extracted.
Things to do with...
“What was her name, anyway?”
Things for which significance
If any significance existed at all.
Because stuff becomes heavier with time
Complicating our lives,
Weighing us down
And slowing our momentum
Into the new we are meant for.
Physical stuff congests us,
Constantly tempting us to keep,
As if we can keep anything.
As if we can keep the feeling itself
That object once gave us,
And make time stand still.
Oh let’s feel the freedom,
The relief from owning stuff.
The burden lifted.
Nothing is so simple,
So beautiful as nothing.
Yes, next to not keeping stuff,
Getting rid of stuff is second best.
A humbling admission of days gone by.
A delayed and sad sort of satisfaction.
D. Richter (b 1948)