Zen & Dharma

O-Soji: of Me and my Stuff

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMoving in: I am on a mad domestic binge. The longest extended move-in ever, from my oryoki bus back into my tiny Commercial Drive apartment. It is an epic O-Soji: a big year-end temple cleaning. I am cleansing and evaluating, re-evaluating and valuing. In re-familiarizing myself with my meager collection of Stuff, I take each item in my hands, turn it over, and consider its needs.

Everything must be sorted, fixed and cleaned, recycled or purged. Screws, nails, bags of old cables and power supplies. Stale spices, unlabeled teabags, little boxes and bags and jars. All  sorted then emptied, or fed to the worms, or else funneled back into the freshly cleaned jars. Old papers, unread books, single socks, excess plates and pillow cases — gone, to the recycling bins, or carried to the East Van shopping mall by the dumpsters.

This morning the ikea table that subletter Doug left behind, along with the bedframe that cowered in my basement storage locker since I moved here seven years ago, were gladly claimed by a young woman moving into her new place. Things are moving out. And yet already the Stuff is proliferating. In need of a cookie sheet, I find two in a box by the curb. In need of a printer, I find a fine new laser printer in the storage locker. It is Doug’s but he says keep it, use it. In this world of obscene overabundance i realize that it is always so much easier to get what i need, than to get rid of what no longer serves me.

And then there is cleaning. Ohmygod how I love to clean. I’m not being facetious—I actually do. What better than to pour love out into the grotty corners and bring the light? Holes all patched and darned. My sexy pirate boots washed carefully with good shampoo, buffed with a soft brush and waterproofed, brass buckles shined. I will take them in soon and get the rubber on the heels replaced. Good for a few more years.

I am so glad that I own so little, that I can take such pleasure in loving the things that I have. May I serve them faithfully, may they serve me well.

<<photo: this truck pulled up outside my building just as i finished this post … which reminds me of the koan: if there is no self, then what is in all those storage lockers … ? >>

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