Lynne d Johnson



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11.14.13 12:22 PM

Myself, Laid Bare

In the past couple of weeks, I have been on a cleansing streak. No, not a juice cleansing or anything like that. A life cleansing. Recently having to pack up and move forced me to have to do it, but after doing it, instead of sadness, I felt a sigh of relief, as if I were able to let go of my past in order to move on to whatever is going to happen next.

There were things from my past...things I'd written in New Word or One World or Beat Down or and other now defunct independently owned magazines. Some interviews I conducted in the past and stories I'd written were photographed, and sent into the cloud -- Evernote, Google, Dropbox, and other such places we hope stay in business because what then will we do with all of our content and data? My nearly year's worth of tech writing on BlackPlanet, and writings from Africana, all nicely printed out because a lot of it was no longer out there in the ether, and much of it not even on the waybackmachine -- all made their way to a shredding machine. Shreds of paper. Shreds of words. Shreds of a former life. Shreds of self, or at least what I thought was self.

There were letters and poems to and from former lovers. There were endless writings, thoughts, doodles. Stops and starts at watercolors. Books started and unfinished. Spoken word recordings. Piles and piles of magazines. Some I'd written in. Some held for research. Some held just because they looked fly or were no longer in print. Just so much memorabilia, that at times I didn't even know how to classify or categorize things. And even with a storage room on lease, I knew I wasn't going to keep it all. I knew I couldn't keep it all.

So I started a rule. If I hadn't thought about it, looked at it or longed for it in the last 5 - 10 years, then perhaps it was time to part with it. Some books ended up in storage, and some did not. Some CDs ended up in storage, and some did not. Some cassette tapes made it into storage, and some did not. Those that didn't, are perhaps in a landfill now laid to rest as if at the end of their lives. A lot of clothes and out-of-date electronics made their way to the Salvation Army drop off. An ending for me, but a new beginning for someone else. Some furniture items made their way to Craigslist for a quick cash sale, while others stood solidly on the sidewalk until someone came along to cart them away.

Photographs though, were off limits. Whether from childhood or recent past, I was not going to part with photographs, even if they hadn't made it to photo albums or the cloud. The visual memories, deserved a place to be timeless and held dear. These things made it to storage. These things made it to that special place called forever.

A tinge of sadness welled up inside as I sorted through item, after item, after item. Yet as my past went slowly through my hands, I marveled at how it seemed that I had become a hoarder of sorts. That I was holding onto things as if there was some future to come in which these items would be important. And then, how could I come to terms with a past thrown in the trash, that was not trash? I reminded myself that I held all of these memories close and dear to my heart. I reminded myself that it's fortunate I have somewhat of a photographic memory -- so just by looking at the things I parted with, just by looking at them one last time, they would become forever etched in my brain computer and I could call them up from the catalogue that is my mind at any time. Sure my mind could go, as I get older, but no one could ever change my experiences. They would always be mine. A part of me.

There's so much more I could write and say about all of the pieces of me that were wrapped up in physical items, that moved with me from place to place to place all across Brooklyn. There's so much I could say about the move, about the past, about letting go, about learning to live in the present that I guess I'm just not ready to say. But what I do know is that I learned to let go of who I was, and who I thought I was, and all of these little perceptions I held about myself and what I thought should be happening right now in my life, and what I think I deserve and have a right to, so that I could slowly unveil and accept who I am becoming now and what is happening now.

Realizing now, that perhaps I was stuck in a definition of self that was created by things I had done, places I'd been, people I'd known, and not necessarily who I really am. It's not that my past didn't make me, it's just that the past isn't as important today as it was yesterday. Today is important today. What I do now, what I say now, who I be now, is what's important. I'm learning that in order to be, we must be bare. Pared down to the bare essentials in order to see reality. In order to see clearly. In order to be.

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