On Letting Go

“Attachment is the root of sorrow”- the Buddha

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose”- Kris Kristofferson

“It’s not much of a tail but I’m rather attached to it.” Winnie-the-Poo

I’ve actually let go of a lot of stuff in my lifetime. Sold it, broke it, lost it, watched it walk away. I should be as free as a bird by now, because, as pop wisdom would have it, letting go and eliminating attachments is the sure path to purification, or at least some kind of happiness.

letting goAnother truism is that it’s better to have never had anything than to have had it all and lost it. But I wonder,  does the pauper suffer less because he’s never spent a night at The Four Seasons or ridden in a limo? I doubt it, and besides, according to the Buddha and Kristofferson, the pauper shouldn’t be suffering at all, being so detached and all.

Somebody recently said to me “What kind of guy gives away his dog?” The reason she said it to me was because I’d just given away my dog. A big reason I gave away my dog was because he was not adjusting very well to high-rise life after roaming the tall grass of Alpine for most of his life. But part of the reason was pure selfishness. I got tired of cleaning up poop and going for walks 10 times a day.

I had this re-occurring dream for many years. In the dream I have suffered a professional catastrophe and have been banished to the hinterlands, deposited in some shit little town in the middle of nowhere, dispossessed of everything, working a dead-end job, the bright lights, the fame, the fortune, the big city, all things of the past.

I never could go back to sleep after that dream. Panic attacks are seldom restful.

Then a few years later, the dream essentially came true. Through a combination of bad decision making, dumb luck, shifting circumstances, back-stabbing bum-fuckery, and karma, I lost it all. Gone was the house. Gone were the three acres of oak, olive and eucalyptus trees. Gone was the Corvette. Gone was the SUV. Gone were the Ducati 900, the Harley Soft Tail, the Yamaha enduro, and the little 2-stroke CR-80. Gone was the radio career. Drum set, piano, furniture, suits, ties, shoes, books and magazines: gone, gone, gone. Christ, at one time I believe I owned 7 or 8 leather motorcycle jackets.

What’s left now fits nicely in a 10-by-10 storage unit. And, although I’m not about to pronounce Rosarito as the “shit little town in the middle of nowhere” as in my dream, it sure as hell ain’t midtown Manhattan.

Did I mention my Mom died in the middle of all this?

Did I mention that my father and older brother are long dead?

Did I mention the divorce?

Did I mention that I gave away my dog?


Today I drive a humble little Mazda 3 with 165,000 miles on her. The upholstery is cloth, but I don’t mind, because in a lot of ways it’s a hell of a lot better car than the ‘Vette. 170,000 miles and going strong. Plus, you know how black leather can get sticky in the summer?  I don’t have a motorcycle but I would if I could justify the expense.

I moved into a new apartment in Rosarito a few weeks back, furnished, and it’s month-to-month. I still have a nice ocean view although I find myself viewing the ocean less and less. The WiFi and cable are free but they both suck. I do my laundry at a laundromat.

I love sports, but haven’t been able to watch any baseball games or football games in months. I’ll miss the World Series this season for the first time in over 40 years. I suppose I’ll survive.

My parents never owned a house until I was away at the University of Florida. They rented their entire lives until they were well into their 50’s.  A few years ago I went back east and arranged an estate auction of my parents things. It took me a week to sort through the sheer volume of stuff because they obviously had  never thrown away a nonperishable item in their entire lives. Attachments!

There it all was: ancient financial records, family photographs going back to the 1930’s and 40’s,  bric-a-brac and “collectibles”, dozens of scrapbooks crammed with old newspaper clippings, a shoe box filled with refrigerator magnets. I found a stack of letters written back and forth between my Mom and her Parisian pen pal, all from the late 30’s when Hitler was on the march. There were my mailed-out grade reports from my freshman year in college and, in an adjacent box,  the Union scarf my great grandfather wore in the civil war. I found my high school shot put in a corner of the basement next to a room filled with a hundred pickling jars. The whole house was a museum to my parents and their families and their kids and the 20th century.

The amazing thing was that all of this stuff had been hauled from state to state, city to city, house to house, going back nearly 100 years.

I hauled to the curb 25 construction-grade trash bags filled with family history. I saved some photo albums and a few scrap books and an old rocking chair. Everything else was auctioned including the shot put.

My good friend Darrell had faced the same ordeal a few years earlier, cleaning up and clearing out after his mother died. He told me of feeling a profound sadness when sorting through the flotsam of his parents’ 50 years of marriage, especially the items preserved from his childhood. I felt no sadness, only catharsis.

Well, actually I felt a little sadness because I never did locate the gold Krugerrands my parents brought back from a trip to South Africa. Damn!

I travel light now. The detritus of my life resides in a storage unit in Spring Valley and another one in Mexico. I have a little steady income because I was a union member for 35 years.  For the first time in my life, I’m free to pick up on a moments notice and take off in any direction, to go anywhere I want, for whatever reason, and without permission. In other words, I’m detached.

And the horizon beckons.