“General relativity holds that anything with mass distorts the fabric of space and time, just as a bowling ball placed on a bed causes the mattress to sag.” – Mark Benna, Discovery Magazine “Albert Einstein: The Whole Package.”
I read this quote while sitting on a cramped airline flight (the man next to me snoring so loudly the windows seemed to rattle) on my way to deal with the final effects of my deceased husband and our 6 year marriage. Three years ago, just after his death, I sold all the larger items and put the rest in my sister’s warehouse storage space. I took off for a summer break with plans to return in the fall. Things did not happen that way. I ended up in another city and state with only the things I had in my Toyota Corolla.
Eventually I got a small apartment and it somehow filled with all the accoutrements of home, despite that I had left all of my possessions elsewhere. The speed and ease with which things accumulated both surprised and perplexed me. Even so, I still missed the things I left behind while at the same time I dreaded having to go back through them.
Time passed and the pain of grieving as well as the sore feeling of not having my favorite things dissipated. I could not figure out a way to affordably get there and return with the things I wanted. More time also meant the fear of facing those old memories and emotions increased. I picked up the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I thought: “I am ready… ready to deal with the storage unit items.” So that is how I came to be on that flight, reading a quote about Albert Einstein explaining General Relativity and thinking of my own cosmic drag of stuff.
As I prepared for my trip, I focused on honing my tidying skills using the techniques from the book. The main lesson about discarding things is to keep only those items which spark joy. The author thoughtfully and often humorously gives plenty of suggestions on how to accomplish and practice the feeling of sparking joy. I began my tidying spree in preparation for the really hard stuff to come.
I spoke of the process to others. One woman teared up as she told me of her husband who had died three years before in a tragic motorcycle accident. She put all of his things in a storage unit. She moved out of state and was paying $100.00 monthly. The thought or returning to the memories was excruciating. The next time I saw her, she told me that after talking to me, she called his family and mailed them the storage unit key. She told the family she did not want a thing. She said she feels 1000 times lighter and freer.
Different items create a heavier or lighter drag in the cosmic field. Some things have a kind of guilt attached to them because of the obligation to keep them. Other things were once useful or brought joy, but are not of use now and spark no joy. Things that remind us of the dearly departed are a special category in the General Relativity of stuff. These items can hit on every emotion, memory, and feeling of responsibility. Like Einstein’s theory, this combination of matter and energy can “evolve, stretch and warp, forming ridges, mountains and valleys that cause bodies moving through it to zigzag and curve.”
During this time I did a Yi reading on my focus. I received H46: “Step by Step” (LiSe), wind below and earth above, with moving lines at 4 and 5 and 6.
With all three outer lines of earth moving, an immediate image came to mind: I thought of my IPAD. The app icons are displayed on the page for choosing. When a certain button is clicked, it causes all of the icons to vibrate. They shimmy and shake and appear excited and vulnerable to change. They also appear with an ‘x’ much like the way a moving line is indicated in a hexagram. When you click on the little ‘x’ in the corner of the app icon, it causes it to disappear. If you click on the original button (the one that caused them to shimmy) they become sold and stable again.
As I considered this image, I thought of earth moving, all the little lines shimmying and shaking, and ready to move to heaven. I could feel the earth attributes and then the heaven attributes. I did not experience the lines as separate meanings of 4, 5, and 6. The movement of the outer flipped completely. It is there and then it is gone.
The process of tidying is like this too. The initial approach is best done with an earthy intent. It is better not to have specific plans and goals in mind. The idea is that each item is held and considered for the feeling it evokes. The author recommends a specific sequence of categories for learning this process. Start with clothing, because it is the easiest. The last categories are mementos and photos. It is a wonderful example of a step-by-step earthy process.
Once the feeling, the spark of joy, is recognized or recognized to be absent, then a decision is made. The item is discarded or it is kept with confidence. This is the firmness of heaven. This is clicking the little ‘x’ or the button that stabilizes the icon. The items discarded are acknowledged for their previous usefulness and thanked and sent on their next journey. The items kept are put aside for a later task of storing. Then the process begins again with the next item. Those things that remain spark joy.
Wind on the inside fits my approach to both the process of tidying and learning the trigrams and line associations. I like the way wind feels steady and moving at the same time. It is slow, as I put down roots in my thinking and learning. Building on my lessons and experiences in application gives the movement and growth the steady feeling. As I try new things, there are times in the outer situation where I feel like I am not getting anywhere, not going fast enough, etc. Coming back to wind on the inside feels comforting. I am applying the attributes of wind: gentle pressure, small steps, research, and investigation, gradual and subtle change. It is all OK and no moving lines means I am stable, yet growing on the inside.
The outer situation is ripe with opportunity for growth. It is a field of possibilities. Here, every line is moving, shimmying, so the first thing that hit me is earth moving to heaven. Earth is the possibilities, the nurturing of ideas. I have read the book. I have tried a few of the techniques on the easier categories. The material and the possibilities are present and ready to be acted upon. The trigram of heaven, the trigram of movement says that I must add action: doing and applying creatively. I cannot only think about it or talk about it. I must also do it.
Line four is the place of getting assistance. Some of the actions that fit this line: There is help. I listened to the 2nd book. I ordered the hard copy. I looked at pictures. I bought some things for storage that motivated me to move to the next category of items to sort. I sold some of the items I chose to discard. I donated others to a mother and daughter who felt like it was Christmas. These are receptive interpretations of outer actions.
Line five is to be the leader. I got this. I can do this. Some of the actions that fit this line: I met the emotional quality of sentimental items and sorted further. Even though, at times, things looked messier and more dis-organized, I pressed through knowing that the process had worked before. Each category I tackle and complete gives a great feeling of satisfaction. I am being receptive to the processes.
Line 6 is to look back and learn from the process and also prepare to move forward. I can look over the clothes I have put away and the organization. I consider how to apply the principles to the more challenging items with history and sentiment. I can feel that I have progressed. I can look forward to the bigger challenge of sorting more sentimental things.
As I considered the movement of each individual line, I also saw the corresponding trigram of change and how its attributes can add a dash of flavor, and helpfulness in consideration of the attributes of the received trigram. I went through this process mentally, standing in my living room. A whole pattern of images emerged.
When I saw it, in my mind’s eye, I said out loud: “Oh, oh. Oh!” I stood like a statue in the midst of my thinking. Apparently that is a side effect of learning this trigram method, to stand around staring off into space imagining patterns. I call this effect of standing motionless and slack-jawed while envisioning trigram patterns: Bagua Brain. I blame (credit?) Harmen Mesker for the condition.
I saw this in a series of trigram steps like a stairway to heaven:
Line 4 of earth moving would change to thunder. I can overcome the inaction of wondering how I will tackle the next step by applying the movement of thunder. Follow the steps of the book. Get going. Just do it. Pull everything out.
Line 5 of earth moving would change to water. I can overcome not directing the actions by applying the flow of water. I move through the dangerous realm of emotional attachments by taking the plunge and repeating the process.
Line 6 of earth moving would change to mountain. I can overcome the feelings of acceptance and adapting by bringing in the stillness and contemplation of mountain. I have the strength to look over what I have let go and move forward to releasing even more difficult things in the future.
Since the entire trigram representing the outer situation is moving, I also saw these steps in reverse. I imagined heaven moving in the steps back to earth.
Line 4 moves to the trigram wind. When I teeter to thinking I need to keep taking action and getting it all done, I can overcome it by applying the step by step process of wind. Take a break. Get help by talking to others and remain open to suggestion.
Line 5 of heaven moves to fire. The action of sorting is always about considering attachment to things as well as the past and the relationships these things represent. It is not only about the action of mindless sorting. Take time to consider the items: “What are the memories? Do I need the object? Is it the memory or the object to which there is attachment?” I can overcome burning through like a job by considering to what I cling and why.
Line 6 of heaven moves to the trigram lake. I can overcome pure activity and performing tasks by always returning to the consideration of what sparks joy. That is the top, the reason for the process. Each category sorted leaves me with only those things that spark joy. I move forward knowing that I can move creatively through the sentimental triggers by returning to the feeling of joy. I am honing my ability to make decisions. My life becomes a reflection of this spark of joy.
Before my trip began I got really sick. I felt that the respiratory issues I was experiencing came from toxic levels of mold and pesticides where I work. I didn’t have time to see the doctor before I left or while I was gone. I received H13: “Mankind” (LiSe), fire below and heaven above, with movement at line 6. Fire is my gut, knowing what to do and what is essential for me. Heaven is the building, the institution, the leader of the company with all the corporate rules. Line 6 is in it but not of it.
I call them moving lines, but they move in different ways depending on their placement within a trigram: they shimmy, shake, wave, tremble, or quake. It felt like line 6 popped open. There is a push through the 4 yang lines. An image came to me of dandelion poking through the hard ground on the outskirts of town near a garbage dump. This little weed, so full of nutrients, can thrive and transmute toxins. This powerful image stayed with me, giving me more than words ever could. I identified with it, and I became the dandelion. When I returned, I was diagnosed with a form of pneumonia. The dandelion, breaking through the top, helped me to push through.
Back home now, I am freer in having released and discarded. I flew to Florida, unloaded the storage unit, sorted it into trash, donote or bring home. I loaded it in a mini-van and drove 10 hours home. I unloaded it into my small apartment all while popping cold medicine and a tincture of dandelion. I still have some sorting and tidying to complete, but I am confident in my skills to find that sweet spot of just what to keep and finding where it belongs. Now, everywhere I look, there is an item that sparks joy. My cosmic drag has become a shooting star, and I am a transmutational force of light years. Yee Haw.