Tuesday, March 11, 2008


It used to be that my whole life was about this attachment thing. I used to joke that anything or anyone I ever let go of had scratch marks all over it. I would think it was a sign of love, a sign of well-to-do-ness. I loved my Mustang, my one and only, champagne coloured, I went out and bought a whole outfit, including shoes, to match the Mustang. I thought I was made in my Mustang. That feeling lasted about a week.

Is it a youthful thing, then, this attachment? I would yearn for the country of my birth so badly, I was rarely happy where I actually placed my feet. I dreamed of living somewhere else, being anywhere else but here and now.

I was scared to let go of a sad marriage or a sorry relationship, what would be at the other side of it? Fear of the unknown was huge to me. It was better to be in something I knew than to face the stark horror of the yawning chasm.

But now I have found the unknown is the best place to be. The very edge of my comfort zone is the happiest place.

I got to mulling all of this over today, someone asked me how it was to live in the place where I am at the moment when absolutely none of the stuff in this house is mine. It is pretty stuff, expensive stuff, but all that I own here are my laptop and my books and my clothes.

"Immensely freeing," I responded, "I'm not attached to anything here".

I thought I was attached to my house in Toronto, the one I sold last May. I had invested time and money and love in that house. But really what it all boiled down to was that I couldn't love a house. I could love the various events that took place there, the dinner parties and the brunches and the lovers. I am surprised by how much I don't miss the house itself. No attachment.

I'm attached to my daughters, I would venture, and to my granddaughter. But I find it hard to get attached to any potential partner, no matter how attractive or interesting. And friends have come and gone over the years, some have died, others have moved on or I have moved from them. I cherish the long term friends but attachment? I don't think so. Not really.

I'm even less attached to outcomes, I don't chase possibility or being somewhere and being seen. I live inside my own head more. It's becoming a better place. I took away the alcohol and the nicotine to clear out more space. I filled it with books and pictures and short stories and poems and some crafty things and some of the old songs and stories of my grandparents. And some pictures too, mainly of the ocean. We're all comfy in there. I could divest myself of the cream buns and the sausages perhaps. I can dream of running again sometimes, another half-marathon. Or about the play I've been asked to write. Or the next novel.

That's one of the hidden pleasures of getting older. This freedom. This non-attachment. Just letting life drift around one's ankles. Less fighting, less importance placed on what can't be changed.

It is truly a feeling of getting to know oneself all over again and not giving a damn what anyone else thinks. I like it. I really do.

Picture is of St. Vincent's, Newfoundland where the whales come in to play.


  1. I feel the same, www, a decreasing sense of attachment. I enjoyed my job but now I don't have it I'm not really bothered, I'll just look for something new. Ditto the house. I've enjoyed living in it but now we're planning to move I realise I could leave it behind quite happily. I realise more and more that in the great scheme of things what seemed incredibly important when I was young was actually not as essential as I thought. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and infinite joys and delights in the universe. One exception though - I'm still pretty attached to Jenny!!

  2. I don`t really like also to be attached to something especially if it`s only material however the home you had been living in for several years it`s a different story. I`m absolutely delighted by the picturesque Toronto houses and I`m planning to buy one as soon as I`m getting through the mortgage process. I desire this to have my own home for a long time so I think Iwould be tightly attached to it.

  3. For a long time I've known that the only way to live my life was from my true being. It sounds selfish to say 'be the center of your own universe', but I don't believe it is. Like you, there have been times earlier in life where I've forsaken my inner security for the sake of someone, or something, else. It never works. It only brings what seems, at the time, unbearable pain and distress. Attachments are negative responses to our own insecurities; choosing to share is the positive alternative, I believe. I found this to be one of life's greatest lessons.

  4. Nick:
    I believe the less attachment to stuff the more we open up to the "real". And work, if we want it, always finds us. That never ceases to amaze me. About twenty five years ago I lost such an important (doncha know!) job and lived in fear of never finding another. Well, once I changed my thinking the work has always found me since.
    Welcome and good luck in finding your dream house.
    From what you say, I am reminded of Anthony De Mello's writings when he said oftentimes you get two people staying together to keep each other happy and what do you wind up with? Two unhappy people. Happiness is an inside job and we need to fix ourselves first. I don't think it selfish at all. Healthy more like :>)

  5. I agree that getting older does have many compensations, WWW. I don't think I'd go back to being young, even if it were possible.

    I learned a hard lesson about attachment around 12 years ago when I and my late partner lost every single thing we owned (except our car, my purse and the clothes we had on) in an horrendous fire which spread from an adjoining building. We'd lived happily in the apartment for 24 years. We loved that home, looked on it as part of us, almost as a living thing. It was like a bereavement getting over the losses, though we still had each other for a few years longer, until the final disentanglement had to take place through death.

    I've never formed the same kind of atachment to "things" or places again since then, and it IS freeing, as you have said. It's also a form of self-defence I suppose.

    I still haven't lost the need for a partner though, a soul mate. Husband and I were discussing this only yesterday. We spend a lot of time separately, doing our own thing, but we're always "there".
    It's odd, because I'm firecely independent in almost every other way.

    I think it's probably in our astrology. ;-)

  6. Some of the biggest issues my sons are working through in their parents splitting up are separation, attachment and loss. They are among the biggest challenges in life.

    As soon as I attach, I also need to tolerate the loss of that attachment at some point. Sometimes that pain feels intolerable and so it is easier not to attach at all.

    Having a long distance relationship has brought up all of these issues for me. It's something I tolerate, but wouldn't choose in the long term. Learning how to attach is liberating because it also means living in the here and now and being authentic about my need for other people to be around.

    WWW, you and I are at different stages in our lives. I wonder how my view may differ in a few years time.

    Thank you for sharing this thought provoking post.


  7. T:
    I suppose part of my detachment may wellbe the final letting go of finding the 'soulmate', I did put a lot of activity into it over the years (in one year alone I was known as 'the dating queen'!) but this serenity that has come since I gently put that aside is priceless. It may happen, there have been a few 'look at me's' in the past year.
    You are blessed to have found a soulmate again.

  8. H:
    I believe that children need to be attached and have serious issues when the marriage breaks up. Mine did. My granddaughter does. All we can do is make the transition easier, but it is never quite enough as somewhere in our hearts we attach to 'perfect' and of course we know it doesn't exist. we make do and make joy where we are.
    I love the exercise given by a dear friend who faciliates group therapy for people with cancer (they range in age from twenties to eighties).
    She asks them to write down the ten most important things in their lives on ten separate pieces of paper and over the ten weeks of therapy, they have to let go of all these attachments one by one by talking about what they mean and how it is to feel detached.
    It also works the other way, I have found, that sometimes we don't honour enough the things that are the most important. :>)
    Looking back, I didn't spend as much time as I should have playing hooky with my kids.


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