I've realized that it's in death that we drop our masks. What we've been hiding remains, unless we've been cleaning up all along. When we match our inner worlds with our outer worlds, there won't be so many messes when we're gone. My dad was a great guy but he kept things that didn't need keeping.
This past weekend in the Yoga Teacher Training I was teaching a bit about Saucha, or purity, and I was reminded of an event that had happened exactly a year ago...
We had heard that things had turned in my dad's health - he had cancer - and we should come right away. I spoke to him and told him I was on the way. I'd be there in two days. My father died while my sister and I were en route to visit him. So we got to Texas and our trip was different than we had been planning. Instead of a visit with him we were left with his stuff and dealing with what you have to deal with when someone close to you dies.
One of the days while we were down there was a holiday, so most things were closed and we didn't really have much to do so we thought we'd go open his storage locker we were told he had. My dad used to wear a fanny-pack and his keys were all attached to that. All of his keys. His friend told us he knew were the storage locker was and could take us there.
We drove out to the edge of town where he thought the storage place was, and sure enough, there was the slightly hidden driveway. When we got to the entrance, our father's friend left us. He only knew which place the storage locker was at because he drove my dad there every once in a while to drop off his checks to pay for it. He had no idea which locker it was. "Which way did he walk when he went to the locker?" we asked him. He didn't go to the locker - he just went to the office and dropped off the check.
We called the number on the closed office door to see if someone could let us know which locker of the hundreds on the site were our father's. They couldn't help us for one thing because they don't give out that kind of information to just anyone and second thing, the computer was in the office, not where we were calling.
We didn't have much else to do and it was just my sister and me with our little rental car and a whack of keys so we decided we'd hunt for it. "Do you think he'd have a big one or a little one?" "Which kind of lock do you think he used?" No clue. So we proceeded to go to each locker and try each key. Maybe this wasn't even the right place. Maybe he didn't have a locker or it was inside. Who knows.
As we went up and down the gravel roads of lockers trying each rusty lock a few times with different keys we started to imagine what could be so important that he'd have a locker even though he had a home with plenty of space. Maybe this would be our inheritance. Maybe he's got something really interesting to leave us. Maybe he'd been secretly stashing collections that would have value. Maybe it's full of good things we can sell or use.
Finally, at practically the last locker, at the last corner we turned, my sister yelled out that she'd found it. This is the one. We took a big breath. This was it. My dad's treasures. His secrets for us.
So you can already imagine or scroll down and see the pictures of what we found. A big bag of nothing. Old computer parts. Old ones. Dusty photo albums that were damaged from water and rodent excrement. A bar stool. Broken fishing rods that hadn't been used in years. That was my dad. It couldn't have been any other way, of course. It had to be that way. That's just how we was and we loved him.
But really? Come on, Dad. You spent money you didn't have every month to keep this pile you couldn't confront and sort through. Maybe if we had visited Texas a year earlier we could have helped clean it out when he could tell us what was special about each thing. But we didn't do that.
So I came home to my mom and family here saying please clean out your stuff now - tell us what's important so we can know why you kept what you did. Where are the keys to the motorcycle and the house and where is the important stuff? Do you have insurance? Where are the papers we need? I want to make sure I leave a trail so my loved ones can know what I meant and was up to.
In the end of course it doesn't matter. Clean up or don't. But if you clean up while you can, you may get to experience the satisfaction that comes when you align yourself, the energy that's freed up when you know where things go. When you know what you have and you don't keep more than you can handle.
After the trip out to Texas to attend my father's funeral and handle some of his affairs, I came home with a strong message for everyone in my family - Please Clean Up Your Stuff So We Don't Have To Do It When You're Dead. It's a drag.
It's been a year exactly since we were down there saying goodbye to my dad. Since that time I notice him all over the place. In the newspaper Sudoko puzzles, in the spider plant like he used to keep in all his houses, in my memories of crazy experiences like the ones I just shared here. He's not gone, he's been converted, but shit, it would have been nice not to have had to clean up his big mess.