A Small bit of Memoir: Gift

[From July 2019, in South Korea]

Everything is a gift.
Even the cockroaches are a gift.
How else would I have cleared out the extra plastic bags under my sink,
how else would I have scrubbed behind my refrigerator,
how else would I have sorted through every single thing in my kitchen to determine whether or not I really needed it in there in the first place?
They scurried around when I turned on the light
And I know that’s not something that you want to hear.
I know it’s not pretty, it certainly is not beautiful to me when I walk into my kitchen,
a little hungry,
a little tired after work
and find one medium sized cockroach flying across my countertop back into its hole in the wall where there may be an entire colony just living their lives,
and enjoying the literal breadcrumbs of my existence in this space. 

But the theme of my life right now is creating space… Getting rid of the old things which do not serve me, maybe they have never served me. I’ve given my energy to so many meaningless things over the course of my 28 years on this planet and so many of those things were not mine to begin with. They were meant for someone else. 

They were maybe meant for my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother before me and maybe…they were meant for none of us. 

And I can see now, these years I thought I had space for all around me, I thought that I kept my bubble pretty clear. But I can see now, these years I thought I had space all around me, I thought that I kept my aura free of debris…the truth was that I was full of clutter. 

I’ve called myself a minimalist, I’ve claimed to have lived a simple life, I’ve even been known to count my physical possessions out of pure curiosity followed by a slight purge just so I could reduce the number of things a little bit more to soothe my minimalist ego. 

Even if I never told anyone, and even if no one was going to find out, I held my little pride in my heart space like a nugget of gold. Somehow the physical possessions that I owned, or the lack thereof, defined me in some sort of way and I felt that yes, I had space.

Something of a reckoning hit me, maybe a month or two ago, maybe it started as a seed planted longer before. I’m not sure. What it grew into was the knowledge of the baggage. (Autocorrect changed “baggage” to “baguettes” just now and I had a little laugh to myself. Joy is in the small things, no? Moving on…) The reckoning when something like this… I realized that there was only me. It’s only hit me that nobody was coming to save me, nobody was coming to change my life for me, no one was coming in to take the bitterness and confusion and pride out of my heart before me. It was up to me, and it was not going to be pretty, but it was going to be worth it all. 

So, I guess this is my life update now. Now I live in South Korea, once again. I spend my days teaching English to actual children and I spend most of my nights teaching love, discipline and gentleness to my internal child…who, it turns out is still in there and mostly just wanted me to notice her again. And give her a hug.

My kitchen is disturbingly clean as I am now slightly obsessed with keeping it that way. And yes, there are cockroaches in there. I don’t plan to keep it that way but here we are. Denial isn’t going to help anything. Action, as in clearing more and more space in the kitchen will help and over time (I silently pray) the little pests will be gone forever. But for now, I take a few deep breaths and enter the kitchen, turn the lights on and greet my small ugly roommates. Whether I can see them or not, they are with me. 

Even the cockroaches
are a gift.