fill the void

How interesting that we become so easily consumed…

How interesting that we so easily consume.

It wasn’t until I pulled out everything I owned and laid it on the floor of my lounge room, that I realised I’d been buying things to fill a void. All this ‘stuff’ I’d spent years accumulating bound me to a version of myself I had been trying to shake for a very long time.

Every item represented, and tied me to, a memory, a way of thinking and an old part of myself. As I analysed the pile of goods, I initially saw the perceived monetary value of all these things. They were worth too much money to just give away, weren’t they? Or was it all really worth only as much as I decided it was worth? This pile of sentimental goods was in fact so large, I could hardly remember why half of it was even sentimental! If that wasn’t a cue for a major cull, there was never going to be one. So I started bagging it up, not the stuff I really loved, but the things that weighed me down. And I started giving it all away. Hundreds of dollars worth of stuff that was no longer worth anything to me. Initially I was tentative, but once I started, I could barely stop. It didn’t just feel good. It felt amazing.

These were things I had been misled into thinking I needed. Designer clothes, expensive makeup, perfumes and books; just things to occupy my space and mind. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have beautiful things, but the desire to acquire them must come from an authentic place. So I reduced that pile of stuff, little by little, and as I did I felt like my mind was growing more and more clear.

I was finally able to get my head around it all, at least in part. I could see what was left and I felt consciously connected to each piece. There wasn’t much, but there was enough for me to look after properly, and manage well. I polished and cleaned and brightened. I felt considerably lighter. The rest of that stuff, well, it’s cluttering up someone else’s life now.

It was ritualistic. A metaphorical cleansing of sorts. I wasn’t just clearing my physical space – I was clearing my inner space. And it was long overdue.

And not only did it mark a cleansing on both mental and physical levels, it also marked the day I began writing again. Suddenly, without all that clutter in my mind, there was room for new imaginings. Room for words to swim around and find each other again, seamlessly, without a single conscious thought. Just that automated trance I remembered so, so well.

Growing up I always had this urge to create. I loved it. It kept me up at night. It devoured me. It occupied my every cell. I would write and paint and draw and play music and lose myself in it for hours. I remember being fifteen and working at the supermarket. I would write poetry on the back of EFTPOS slips. After two years working there, I had a shoebox jam packed and overflowing. The words used to spill out of me like a fountain. I had no idea where they came from. They were never particularly profound, but they were there, always dying to escape. I sat in class and tuned out while the teacher taught grammar and punctuation. I drew pictures and wrote silly poems. I never paid much attention. I still don’t know technical terms. By the time I reached grade 11 my report cards read ‘if only she paid attention’ and finally, ‘if only she came to class.’ I dropped out of school before I began grade 12.

That structured, tedious approach to teaching, and therefore learning, bored the shit out of me. It wasn’t creative. It didn’t spark my attention. I was dreaming about other things…

And all the while, I continued to write.

Eventually, I went to uni and studied journalism. It seemed like an obvious choice. I loved to write. It was what I did.

I graduated equal second of my year, with a Dean’s Commendation. I devoured my studies. I loved doing well. But when I finished and the head of school desperately tried to place me in a job, I resisted. I distinctly remember thinking: I don’t even want to be a journalist! I hated the idea of writing for other people. I hated all the rules. I couldn’t find any passion for it and my soul just dug its heels in and refused. Jumping through those hoops didn’t sit well with me. So I went back to my old job. I started working my way up and making decent money. I started buying the things I thought I’d always wanted, to create a life I thought I’d always wanted. My uni lecturer eventually stopped calling with job offers, and I eventually stopped writing.

The rigidness, and the rules, had sucked the passion right out of me. Even though I had done it all right by everyone else’s standards, it felt so wrong by my own standards. Every now and then I would sit down and try to write again, but I’d just end up staring at a blank piece of paper. I couldn’t find the focus. I had nothing to say. A jumbled mess of confusing thoughts clouded my view.

That was over five years ago.

And then suddenly, out of nowhere, the words started coming back. I started waking up in the middle of the night, like I used to, with an idea, a sentence… and the minute I put pen to paper, it would spill out as fast as I could write it. My hand would cramp before the words ran out.

I went from sleeping ten hours a night to having to force myself to bed, six hours before I knew my alarm would sound. I went from falling asleep on the couch, after lazily eating biscuits for dinner, to cooking three course meals again. I found my passion again, or it found me. And it waited until I had made the changes I needed to make before it reemerged, reinvigorated and new. It waited until I was finally prepared to back myself.

And since I’ve started writing again, I’ve felt peaceful again. Writing pacifies me. It stills me. I’m not hounding my friends as often with scattered thoughts and wild revelations at all hours of the day and night. I trust myself more. I’m not asking for advice as often. I’m just going out and doing it, and I’m writing about it.

I can’t believe it took this long for me to wake up, and that the answer, for me, was there all along. It wasn’t hidden in all those things I’d gathered and accumulated, in fact those things drove me even further away from it. It took stripping it all back to realise it was already within me.

So here I am.

I don’t know if this new chapter will take me to a place that means something to you, but it is taking me everywhere I need to go, for me. And I have decided to nurture this thing that nurtured me growing up, and finally give it the honest dedication and attention I feel it deserves. I am going to throw my everything into its development, on my terms, and just enjoy the ride.

About a lifetime of lessons

Inspired by life. I love challenges and new experiences. On the brink of an adventure to discover, and rediscover... In the year of my thirtieth birthday I decided to throw in my job, put my money on red and take the gamble of a lifetime... a one way ticket... This blog documents my journey. Feel free to visit whenever you like, comment and follow my travels here :) View all posts by a lifetime of lessons

6 responses to “fill the void

  • 3am Wisdom

    Totally on the same wavelength here. I used the old Morris quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” and it amazed me when I started looking how few things that I owned were useful *or* beautiful. There is so much freedom in owning so little stuff that when my friends come to visit and see my room they always ask “Why does it look like you are moving out?” I just smile.

    • a lifetime of lessons

      I love that quote! I’m starting to enjoy the ‘less is more’ approach so much more. Soon, I will only have a backpack filled with just a few things…

      • 3am Wisdom

        And THAT is the best way ever of realising what you don’t need – lugging it about day in day out. I ended up with 4 changes of clothes, a comb, a towel, 3 clothes pegs and a bath plug when I was travelling. The bath plug was essential. I think there is some kind of traveller black market in bath plugs as there are never any in hostels.

      • a lifetime of lessons

        Haha nice… Yes, we are very spoilt. Seems the gap between want and need has become somewhat blurred 🙂 nothing like travelling through countries where that gap is clearly defined to wake ourselves up!!

  • cuhullen

    I share echoes of your path and passion. Nicely expressed.

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