You get the sense from my recent writings that I’ve been a bit preoccupied with the fact that we are moving from the same home after 36 years. Thirty-six is an auspicious number in Jewish numerology. Every letter in the Hebrew alphabet also has an equivalent number, and the word for life is Chai which has the numeric value of 18.
Thirty-six is double life and a blessing for new beginnings. In my mind I know this move will provide many new openings for me, but there are times when I look around and tears bubble up in my throat.
My brother Patch Adams flew in for a day this weekend just to be with us during this transition. Sitting in my library, he told me that this move would in reality release me from the inertia of comfort that kept me from exploring new territory. We talked about our plans to create a preventative community mental health program; about our dreams for building communities that have a love strategy that heals. I believe we will do this with the help of many relatives who share our vision.
Patch just left and I’m sitting alone in my library, this hidden, sacred space to which only my grandchildren are allowed entry unannounced. This is the place I come to hide, to write, and am surrounded by the smell of books. I’m in the process of deciding which books to keep and which ones to donate. A thousand books line the shelves; I tell myself to take only the ones inscribed to me. Then I look at those that have had an influence on me and discover that the empty boxes I brought with me are still empty.
I look around at all the games I play up here with my grandkids and know I’m taking them all: the basketball net, our variation of pin the tail on the donkey, the jacks, pick-up sticks, mechanical horse, the lucky stuffed satin lips, Puckhead hat and Mickey Mouse tie. At that moment it becomes clear to me what can go — most of the books I hardly open — what I need to take is not the stuff in here or the landscape but the soul of the place.
Before we move, we will have a final sweat lodge ceremony on these sacred grounds. Afterwards, we’ll have a giveaway, take down the lodge and put it in the fire. Our Native American relatives have always taken down their tipis and lodges; they say nothing really belongs to us, eventually everything gets left behind. They say leave the place you live at least as good as you found it; say thank you for all the blessings you have received.
I’m feeling better, I feel my tears bubble up, but they are not because of loss, anger, or fear. I have left my holy brother at the airport and I’m sitting here in my library and feel his heart in my chest. I know I’m leaving nothing behind; everything and everyone that’s important comes with us.