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Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Cluttered Mind vs. A Cluttered Closet

In prepping for my newest journal writing workshop—Journaling As Spiritual Practice: A Workshop for People 55 and Over—I’ve been reading a growing list of books that I hope will inspire some of the workshop’s writing exercises.

These books include Joan Chittister’s The Gift of Years; Daniel Klein’s Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life, (2012); and Lewis Richmond’s Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older & Wiser.

Today, I'd like to share some bits from Richmond’s, particularly from a list in the book’s Chapter 4, “I Like Growing Old.”

Richmond introduces the list with: “I have asked any number of people what they like about aging, and I have heard many different answers.” What then follows are 12 of those answers, five of which caught my attention:

            Giving back to the community
            Spending more time with people I care about
            A smaller wardrobe
            Not having to look attractive all the time.

Now the first three are obviously quite meaningful—and “spiritual”—and so are explored in greater detail in Richmond’s book.  But it’s those last two, so prosaic and practical, that speak to me.

And maybe it’s because they reveal how I’ve lived most of my adult sartorial life: owning a quite minimal wardrobe (of the casual variety mostly) and with little or no physical adornment, including noticeable make up.

Now if I were to make my own list of why that’s been the case, it would include the following:

1. I was a fat kid and had to buy my clothes at the Chubby Shoppe at Lane Bryant when growing up;

2. I went to Catholic grammar and high schools, which meant uniforms, i.e., no staring into the clothes closet each morning trying to decide what to wear;

3. And though I married (and divorced) and dated throughout my entire adult life, I haven’t yet re-married, and so have no one currently in-house to “dress up” for;

4. I’m a writer and an entrepreneur, which means that even if I had wanted a large and really glam wardrobe—and regular manicures/facials/make-up sessions at fancy stores—I couldn’t have afforded it;

5. Finally, it seems I’ve always been a minimalist when it comes to material things, eschewing real stuff for the stuff that’s always percolating and circulating in my mind. 

Not sure if that’s a real choice, actually, though it does kind of explain why I write, whether in a personal journal or for publication. All that stuff has to land somewhere outside of my brain, if for no other reason than to make room for the next swirl of ideas, images, and thoughts.

So in response to those last two entries on Richmond’s list, I might add: “It’s great to finally fit in with my peers, even if it took me several decades to do so.”

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