E is for elimination. It has been our mantra of late. On the heels of winter, warm winds of change have begun to forcefully blow. They have shifted and transformed. They have scattered seeds and blown open doors. They have resurrected and restored. They have lifted dense fog and helped us to see.
They have revealed the paradox of beautiful and abundant simplicity, but they have also opened our eyes to notice all sorts of other stuff. Stuff, it is such a bland and non-descript word, but save a four letter expletive, there is no better description for the boxes and files and bins and piles, above us, below us, within us, without us, in cupboards, in drawers, around and about us. The burdens, the weights, the policies. The plans. The noise... The stuff. Where did it all come from? How did we get from there to here?
As we have looked and seen with focus and clearer eyes, an urge to purge, to toss, to release and to give away has overwhelmed. In the weeks of late, piles have been pillaged. Policies have been canceled. The noise has been silenced. And in the spaces between we've rediscovered long-buried treasures. It has been good. Very good.
36" SONY TRINITRON - $90, Westminster, CO.
Paul and I hoisted the hoss from its hutch and lugged it to our garage amidst the other discards. What do they say? One man's refuse is another man's refuge... or something. I posted our TV with a photo and its dimensions on Craigslist, and within minutes, I began to receive calls.
An eager and interested, Lisa was among the first to inquire and to commit. She called from work around 8:30 a.m. Perhaps it was a coffee break. Perhaps. She would plan to come by with her boyfriend on her way home. Would I hold it for her? Would it fit in a standard sedan?
Yes, I guess and I'm not sure.
They arrived at my door just after four - at the tail end of a clamorous afternoon of cleaning out, clearing out and eventually stressing out. My crazed, cabin-fevered kiddos, who had just been sent to their rooms to simmer, were upstairs bouncing off the walls, a frustrated Paul had departed with a truckload of treasures for the good folks at Goodwill, and I had just begun to find short-lived solace in my pantry.
Lisa's eyes were soft, dark and framed by ebony rims. Her shoulder length hair was also dark, inconspicuous and straight. She was small-framed and hugged in shades of blue - aqua on top and navy below. He (I can no longer recall his name, but for the story's sake, I'll call him Marcus) stood just behind her. A man of average height and build, Marcus had salt and pepper curls, five o'clock shadow, jeans and a just-tight-enough t-shirt. We exchanged our hellos and agreed to reconvene in the garage a few moments later. Somewhat down and distracted, I failed to notice the matchbox car in which they arrived.
It wasn't until I opened the garage that I even notice the neon writing on the wall. It quickly became clear that the Trinitron was much larger than they expected. Nevertheless, the three of us spent the next hour trying to squeeze a 200+ pound watermelon into a Dixie cup. We lifted (with the legs... at first) and attempted the back seat. Rrrrrrright.
With a furrowed brow, Marcus stood back, sized up, measured and rallied his troops (us) to try again. We attempted the back seat a few more times from a few more angles before we proceeded to the front seat. Uh huh, not so much. Marcus continued his wishful calculating and strategizing, and he offered idea after idea. 1-2-3... lift, he coached. Turn it this way... what if we tried... How about... Do you have twine?...
Twine?!?! Is he KIDDING?!?!
It went like that for nearly an hour: he instructed, we obeyed. I suppose both Lisa and I felt the need to give the guy credit for his optimism. So we lifted and lugged with little to show for our work an hour later. Lisa was done before we began, and Marcus eventually capitulated too. They would not go home with a TV that afternoon, and I would park on the street another day with empty pockets, a late start to dinner and a sore back.
In a desperate attempt to reclaim my parking spot, I followed up with Maurice, the astute and arrogant voice from mid-morning. He had also inquired about the Trinitron - shortly after Lisa - and drilled me with a long series of specific, well-crafted questions. Does it cut off the ticker at the bottom of the screen? Will there be someone there to help me? May I test it? Can I take it off your hands for $80. Is 9:30 tonight too late?
In a reaction and a momentary lapse of judgement, I sold out my soul, my husband and my sleep far below their value with my hasty responses: I'm sorry, what? Yes, my husband. I guess so. I suppose so, and no, that's just fine.
In the hours that followed, I emptied and lost and filled myself. Anxious and obsessed, my thoughts became fixed on my stuff. I took on the least becoming qualities of my things: I felt heavy and weary and out of control. I gave in, I wallowed and I checked out - way out - before I finally attempted to check back in. At some point, it started to rain, and right on cue, in walks Maurice.
He was mousy - a big voice for such a little man - and he donned pegged jeans and a black jacket. He had a spring in his step, a VCR in tow and he arrived in a van (thank the LORD... or so I thought). We exchanged brief hellos and agreed to reconvene moments later in my garage. While Paul was warm and cozy inside, I had to face the rain and the cold and the mini-monster of my own making.
In the garage, Maurice bypassed the niceties altogether and barked orders for power and an extension cord. He plugged in the TV and the VCR, and like a scene from a bad (really bad) movie, he pulled a VHS tape and a remote control from an inside pocket of his jacket. Copiously rewinding and fast-forwarding through scene after scene of news footage and sports footage, he inspected and tested without a word. CNN, Fox News, ESPN... he had it all.
Sometimes it improves, he broke ten minutes of silence and spoke aloud to no one in particular. He continued to examine, and then explained, You see, there's an arc in the display... and it cuts off the feed at the bottom of the screen... and the pictures isn't clear... and...
AND, IT'S A TV, MAURICE!!!!! I screamed in my head.
For twenty more agonizing and freezing minutes, Maurice worked. He decided to pass on the Trinitron and for the second time that day, I shut the garage with a-tenth-of-a-ton television still in my possession. At least I didn't have to lift it.
The following morning, the cloud had lifted, the sky sparkled and the sun shone bright. It was a glorious Tuesday morning and I determined before I got out of bed that I would delight in my day... and I did. In the peace and quiet of the morning, I wrote and wrote some more and the words flowed. I worked out, I showered, I made breakfast, and I enjoyed. I was fully engaged, fully alive and fully present, and it was good. Very good.
Just as I made plans to go for a walk, my little red phone rang out. It was Daniel calling to inquire about the 36" Sony Trinitron I had advertised on Craigslist.
Yes, it's still available... Yes, I'll be around in an hour... Yes, there is an ATM machine just down the street...
Daniel, a huge kid dressed in baggy black, with shaggy hair and a baby face arrived at my door with two friends - a girl and a guy - 45 minutes later. I'm not sure how old they were, but their spirits were young and light and hopeful. Their expectation and anticipation were contagious. We exchanged brief hellos and agreed to reconvene a few moments later in my garage.
OHHHHHHH!! They erupted in laughter, disbelief and excited high-fives as I opened the garage and the Trinitron came into full view. They were beaming as they approached the enormous electronic with ebullience and jubilation. Before I could opened my mouth to explain that it would likely take the four of us to lift it, Daniel and one friend effortlessly hoisted the TV into the back of the black SUV (phew!) that was parked in my driveway.
It's $90, right? Daniel asked with a glowing, rosy smile.
He reached into his deep, chain-clad pocket and handed me five crisp $20 bills. This is AWESOME, he exclaimed. Keep the change. And as quickly and as simply as Daniel and his friends had arrived, they were gone. They left me 217 lbs lighter.
I stood in the sun for a long while and soaked it all in. Incredulously, I looked at the empty space in my garage, and I felt warm. With a smile on my face, the sun in my spirit and $100 in my pocket, I left my truck outside, shut the garage and headed for the trail.