I had a great time in Asheville. I do think it was the best vacation I have taken in a long time, and I was very relaxed. In fact, it probably would have served me well to stay a few days longer, and that is a big change. Just last year I was struggling with staying away more than 2 to 3 days; feeling antsy and like I needed to get home, and then not quite feeling settled when I was at home.
Perhaps that is the key, feeling settled. I feel settled and happy. Perhaps it is easier to go away because I am more settled when I come home. Perhaps being settled isn't as much about a place as it is a state of mind, of learning to accept that sometimes the world goes as we wish and sometime it doesn't, of learning to acknowledge our feelings and respect them, but then to let them go and not let them drag us into depression or anger in some situations, or into frustration or endless yearning for more or better. We never regain what we fear we lost and striving for more doesn't make us happier; often all we accomplish is creating more pain, pain in others we love. We all experience sadness, fear, anger, but how we deal with them is our own choice. Perhaps happiness is just that, acceptance. Happiness comes in embracing joy, acknowledging sadness, and living with the sure knowledge that both will come again.
Perhaps there is more to it than that. At any rate, in my brief time away I've accepted some new insights into the ways I do and do not always handle stress well. I will leave it mostly at that, simply stating that there are still things I internalize too much.
But then, I've also come to think that contradiction and struggle between striving and accepting is part of what it means to be human in much the same way we struggle between wanting to be independent and yet needing others, between creativity and safety. At time life seems to be a long lesson in finding ways to accept and let go. Sometimes we need to step aside, get away and clear our heads.
So I am happy and settled in my new house. But it really isn't about the house, although the house is not irrelevant. Part of my time in Asheville was spent at a craft fair and in galleries. The craft fair was all about things, and I suppose so is a gallery, but they can also be about seeing things differently. I was torn between not needing or wanting more things, and yet at the same time, sometimes wanting. More struggle. I am not about to disparage things in general, things can be fun, they just aren't the be all and end all. In some ways going to craft fairs and galleries reminded me not to buy, and perhaps that inclination is worth a post of its own. But I did buy a couple of small things, one of which is pictured above. It is a necklace made of automotive springs, part of a line of jewelry made by an artist in Germany. The necklace is light, and springy, and I think it is really cool.
I bought the necklace because I simply think it is neat and interesting and pretty. But I wonder if wearing a necklace made of springs can remind me to spring back and let go. I wonder if buying a necklace when I am thinking about being tightly wound, a necklace made of springs, can act as a talisman of sorts. I am probably just attaching too much meaning to the thing, but I suspect that even a thing can be a gateway. If, when I wear a sweater I knit I am always reminded of where I was when I was knitting, why can't something I purchased take on equal significance? The danger comes when the things become more important than the memories or ideas they represent, when the gateway becomes more important than the destination, when our talismans become more important than our connections and communities, when our small safe room becomes more important than the village that supports and nurtures us, the village that allowed us to create that room in the first place.