Enough already! More thoughts on the things we physically leave behind

by Kim on February 26, 2012 · 23 comments

Photo by goingslo, Flickr Creative Commons

In college, I wrote a six word poem:

This is not a love poem.

Except, I struck out the words like this: This is not a love poem.

Then I turned it over to my creative writing class:

This is not a love poem  by Kim Dinan

Everyone thought it was genius.

My writing group, full of smart, egotistical, and hard to please 20-something males (who took this stuff so seriously that they all went on to get Masters and PhD’s in creative writing), went apeshit.

My professor gave me an A++.

The thing was, the poem was a total accident.  My celebrated poem was actually just the title to what would surely have been some insufferable elucidation on young love.  I’d written the words and then, frustrated that I was unable to come up with anything but the title, crossed them out and gave up on the poem completely.

Only later did I flip through my notebook and rediscover it.  The words, struck but still visible, caught my attention.  I loved what those crossed-out words implied.  I loved that I could feel the whole story in that tiny sentence.

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As I wrote in my last post, I’ve been struggling with my idea of home.  Where is home? What makes home?  How do you give credit to a place or thing or person that has impacted you deeply, even if it isn’t a part of your present day life anymore?

The poem, I think, it demonstrates the answer.  Because what the poem implies is this: What you’ve loved you never really leave behind.  You can try to strike it out, to forget it, to pretend it isn’t a part of who you are now, but what you’ve experienced will always be a part of you.  It’s fruitless to try and move forward denying that truth.

As I get older, I’m learning that it is better to take what has impacted you and fold it in to yourself, in the same way you fold flour into batter at breakfast time.  Let whatever it is- the person, the place, the experience- mix into the parts of you that were there before.  Let your experiences make you more delicious.  Love everything, even the bad stuff, for how it has changed you.

Our years are a rotating door, ushering new people and places and experiences into the building.  The more you put yourself out there, the quicker your door spins.  That’s life, and like life, some of the things that come in the door will impact you profoundly.  We can’t leave those things behind any more than we’d leave our arm propped up by the door like an unused umbrella.  What’s a part of you comes with you.  It is you now.

There are many schools of thought on this, but I am of the belief that nothing is coincidence.  Everything we are given: pain, humiliation, joy, humor, it is all a purposeful gift.  Love, in all of its forms, is the biggest gift of all.  We are meant to let love change us and we are meant to view the world through the lens of what we love.

There is no separating everything we have ever been from everything we will ever be.  We can only hope that our experiences can be leveraged in a way that help us unfold a clearer, bigger version of ourselves.   We can only hope that we realize we are blessed with this messy experience of loving and moving on and leaving things behind.  It is a complicated process and it is also a gift.  To love something and leave it, yet to know that it never leaves you, is a miracle of being human.  

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate February 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I love this! Particularly the part about the rotating door – that is such a great metaphor!

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Kim February 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Hehe, thanks. I hope your door rotates quickly!

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Carmel February 26, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I know I needed to read this right now. You amaze me.

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Kim February 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Carmel, I wrote it with you in mind. XO

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Carmel February 27, 2012 at 7:42 am

This actually reminds me of some advice my brother gave me when I left for my study abroad in Spain. He told me to bring everything that was important to me with me for when I felt homesick. Of course he didn’t mean my CD collection, which I found to be very important at the time, but all those things I loved about home that would bring me comfort. I always think about that when I get lonely.

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Kim February 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm

That was wonderful advice. Sounds like your brother was pretty wise. XXX

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Private tour Berlin February 27, 2012 at 1:35 am

I read your all post. These are interesting. And I want to read that poem in which you get A++.

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Kim February 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm

That was the whole poem!

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Patricia GW February 28, 2012 at 7:07 am

“I believe that nothing is coincidence. Everything we are given…is all a purposeful gift.”
Absolutely!! Everything happens for a reason. The lessons we learn in hard times are even more valuable than the good times, because without them we never would have reached the good times. It really is all about love. I’ll sum up with a Moulin Rouge quote: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
I love your writing Kim, it’s so honest and heartfelt. Keep going XO

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Kim February 28, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Such a great quote. It really is all about love in all of its many forms. Thanks for your kind words :)

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Hannah February 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm

This was so truthful and pure Kim. “To love something and leave it, yet to know that it never leaves you, is a miracle of being human.” Ah, I love this! I am who I am because of the good and the bad, the love and the loss, the loyalty and betrayal… it’s hard to make sense of it all when you are hurting, but eventually the picture becomes clear and you are able to grasp the lesson and move forward. Though in so many ways I wish I could have avoided certain agonies, I am also forever grateful for having felt them.

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Kim February 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Yes, and because you CAN’T avoid agonies, even if you want to, you can only embrace them and love them for how they’ve changed you. In truth, there are many ways to handle loss and pain, but I think at our best we handle it by loving the pain for what it has shown us. We can hate the pain, but what does that leave us?

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Ali February 28, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I love how universal this message is. It describes some of what you’re going through as you prepare to leave & travel the world, but it can also apply to anyone in virtually any other situation. It’s fitting for me due to some things spinning around in my head, keeping me up at 2am. I may need to read this one a few times.

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Kim February 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Yes, it definitely fits a lot of different situations. I hope you find the answers to the things keeping you up at 2am :)

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Sarah Somewhere February 28, 2012 at 10:25 pm

I love the idea of the rotating door, indicating nothing is permanent, that we can’t hold on to every moment, even those things that bring us joy (a person, a job, a house), as eventually the time comes where we need to sacrifice those things in order to grow. Of course, we could close our door, keeping the negative things out (pain, grief, loss) but imagine the joy and wonder and excitement we would be shutting out! You’re right this is the miracle of being human, and something I am experiencing at the moment. For me, the pain has been worth it, the things I have left behind are still a part of me, like you say, and the new experiences are filling me up and making me feel more alive than ever. This post is a wonderful expression of ideas that are difficult to articulate, but you do it so well!!!

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Kim March 1, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Sarah, damn. I couldn’t have said it better myself. You say that I am able to articulate things that are difficult to express, but I’d say you are the one that has that ability. I’m so glad to call you a friend :)

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Jason March 1, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Crap! Now I have PIL stuck in my head…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aumejrcEHs

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Kim March 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm

haha. Sorry about that.

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Dana de Brito March 7, 2012 at 7:59 am

Thanks Kim! This is a great post, and a really honest look into something I think we all feel when we leave things behind…
I believe that as people we are the sum of our experiences, and that can’t ever be left behind.

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Kim March 7, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Hi Dana, you put it perfectly into words. It reminds me of a bit of a poem I have memorized:

Our deeds still travel with us from afar
And what we have been makes us what we are

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Miriam March 14, 2012 at 2:29 am

Kim, thanks for writing this. (Clearly, I’m catching up on posts since discovering your blog…:)

You touch on much of what has been going through my mind as I prepare to return to Portland. I was thinking about the nature of leaving yesterday on my last run through the German forest. I am incredibly sad to be leaving this place and returning to the US. I have to remind myself that I have to let go of what is, in order to make room for what is yet to be. If I cling to this experience, I close off for the possibility of new adventures & experiences, all of which make me more of who I am.

Speaking for myself, I think sometimes the leaving is hard because we are afraid the future holds less, not more. But there is always more! Even the pain- whatever it may be- is more.

Didn’t mean to be so long-winded, but you got me thinking! Thank you for reminding me that this whole experience IS a gift.

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Kim March 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Miriam-

Wow, what you write is so beautiful- thank you for sharing it! “I have to let go of what is in order to make room for what is yet to be.” Yes, yes, yes! I feel that exact same way. I have to let go of this great thing- this great life- in order to become what I need to be. I don’t know how I know that, but I DO know that.

I hope your return to Portland brings you more and more and more.

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