Wednesday, February 17, 2010

a little fat off my life

Lent came and went somewhat inconsequentially last time round, meaning I was too busy with my life (of what, I can't even recall with clarity) too live it. Neither did I prepare and give its meaning due thought. This time, I told KDM, I want to pay more attention.

Fat Tuesday came and went too, as in, yesterday. Fat Tuesday really wasn't fat, considering nothing is strictly lean any more, not in my life. I tried to think some lean thoughts, but like everything else, the thoughts stubbornly remained flabby, resisting to be gathered.

If there was one thing I learned from last month's travel, it was that I could live with less, wearing the same clothes two to three times a week without running them through the washing machine. In the two and half week period, I did laundry once, in a rundown room at the end of the motel we stayed, after obtaining quarters from a coke machine in the inn's alley. I did it while others were squeezing in a nap between typical tourist expeditions. Having nothing else to wear, I dashed about between my room and the laundry machine in KDM's bathing shorts and his undershirt. Fortunately it was in Key West, where there's no way in hell you can be underdressed.

In the other towns we visited, there was no self laundry service at the hotels. Yeah, hotels, not motels. The price list on the laundry slip in the rooms read like retail store price tags, and I don't mean the Wal-Mart tags like I'm generally used to. Buying new clothes was hardly an option since the two luggages packed with clothes for both winter (for NY) and summer (Key West) and the take-home gifts were already weighing down my outlooks for the taxi rides to-and-fro airports. Being between a rock and a hard place such, I went for simplicity, or duplicity, depending on how you look at it. At night I either folded, or sprayed water on and hang up the clothes we'd worn that day to be worn again the day after. I even did this to KDM's under shirts without rousing suspicion when he put them on again (and you shouldn't either). Gross? No, solution. I'm not sure my fellow greenie human fellows won't approve my ingenuity as progress to saving planet earth.

If I could live the two weeks on the road without compulsively running to the washing machine like the hamster running the laddered wheel, how much does it take to apply the broken habit to my life at home? Important thing is, I found that it was POSSIBLE. If I could live with less clothes, less shopping, I could like wise do with less other things, and this would even mean cutting down preparation time for other things I do. I don't have to have multiple choices BEFORE I embark on something. That means less dependence on my own schemes for security, more room to serendipitous encounters, improvisations, or, even, in grander things, Providence.

Radical trust, childlike dependence, a magnificent heart, are the common traits of the saints. They really do possess no second pair of sandals. Unlike my own resolution which I have broken for a hundred times to "travel light", they did it. My not being able to keep it tells much about how heavy I take myself and possessions, while they take themselves so light that they travel with the angels.

What does all this have to do with Ash Wednesday? Not much, but I hope it's a beginning to my "paying attention" to the beckoning Forty Days ahead.

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