“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose”.
These Janis Joplin lyrics pop into my head all the time, (I have no idea why, I’m sure there is some deep subconscious meaning here) and they always launch me into a mental thrashing around of what freedom means to me.
A few weeks ago, I was woken up at midnight by pounding on my front door. When I opened the door, there was no one there, but I saw flames shooting from the building 20 yards across the parking lot. As we all ran out into the street, the fire engulfed two condos, and before the fire fighters could put it out, 2 units were completely destroyed and a 3rd badly damaged. Thankfully there was no loss of life. It was very frightening. I did not sleep very well for the next two weeks.
After a fire, we all automatically begin making mental lists of what we would take with us as we flee. What I found very interesting about my reaction was that I began looking at everything I own more critically. I am definitely not ready to suffer losing everything, but I suddenly felt that 95% of my possessions had little real value to me. I was overcome by an urge to purge. To get rid of all of that stuff that was cluttering up my closets and shelves. One of my neighbors, who had lost everything, said “oh well, most of it was crap anyway”. I knew she had suffered a much deeper loss recently, and I admired the way she was handling a second tragedy.
Even when we know too much stuff is oppressive, it’s so hard to get rid of it. Fire does it for you, it cleanses the clutter, leaving space for clarity. I would not wish the trauma of a fire on anyone, but, in a sense, it must be very liberating? How freeing to have “nothing left to lose”! I have a new perspective, and inspiration to pair down to what I really value, in order to better appreciate what truly matters.
I’ll let you know if I can actually DO IT! It will not be easy…