Throwing away the Key

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara

There are days, as today for example, when I would like to get dressed warm enough for the weather, carefully slip my purse over my shoulders, look around to make sure everything is in its proper place, walk out the front door of my house, lock it, and without looking back, walk away. Walk until the road crosses that little bridge under which flows the small river that was my companion, lo these many years, and throw in the key.

Then just walk on.

The direction now is no longer important. Walking will get me the farthest because it will cost less. I could take the bus but they confuse me so much. A taxi I cannot afford. Walking then. As I walk I can notice my world as I have never seen it with so much intensity.

I can imagine already seeing snowdrops popping up in someone’s front yard under a Japanese maple with its lovely orange branches.

I can see robins flitting about under the influence of a Spring that is just around February’s corner. As I continue, farther from town and into the farm lands, horses and cattle are already roaming the fields. It’s Saturday so children too have come out of their homes to play in greening yards or on paved driveways. There is less and less traffic here.

The road that chose me takes me along another small river, more of a drainage system than a river, really. Here and there where in the wider sections ducks actively seek for food. There are the small divers such as buffleheads, hooded mergansers and golden eyes. There are the dabblers, mallards and widgeons, who plunge their heads into the murky depths then pop up again like battery-operated toys. Black willows and cottonwoods lean over the ponds, some of their branches and trunks broken in a Winter ice storm angling down into the dark waters revealing oily reflections.

Overhead flock after flock of Glaucous-winged gulls fly. They too are on their way to feed. By there direction it’s easy to tell they’re going to the landfill for their daily feast.

You may wonder why I haven’t mentioned the many sounds emanating from such a scene. To tell the truth, it’s my hearing. It isn’t as good as it used to be. There was a time I remember when I could pin-point the location of a tiny golden-crowned kinglet in a tall cottonwood by its weak call, ‘tsit-tsit-tsit’ repeated. Still I can hear louder calls, Canada geese coming in for a landing on one of those ponds formed of brackish waters and in a backyard, a chainsaw; someone busy cutting up firewood.

I hear a baby crying as a mother is putting it in the backseat of the family’s SUV. I think, what a world, that a baby has to ride out of sight of its mother and turned so it cannot see anything. There is evil at work at every level of this man’s world and it’s called ‘security’ and ‘safety’ yet the more of that there is, the less there actually is.

That brings me back to the beginning of my thought-wanderings. There is something calling me that this life which I’ve taken to observe more the less I desire to participate in, is preventing me from responding to. That troubles me because how do I know, how can I know, if the calling is not more important than the staying? How can I know the calling will wait for me, for my ambivalence resulting from my decision not to walk out on the ephemeral comfort of a house and throw away the key today?

I know about callings. I’ve had quite a few in this one life alone. If they are not responded to, they go on to someone else and later I read about them, some famous, some both, famous and martyred.ย  I cannot know if they changed the world but they expressed a courage I chose not to.

If I did leave my house today and threw away the key, would I find such courage? Is it too late and should I just wait?

It’s been raining, it seems, forever and looking out the window I can tell the sun is going to, once again valiantly try to break through the endless clouds and once again, fail.

I’m going to make a fresh pot of coffee and answer some emails, then we’ll see about throwing away the key.

42 thoughts on “Throwing away the Key

  1. Pingback: Throwing away the Key – The Militant Negroโ„ข

  2. mcaimbeul

    I call it the strong pull towards home. The trick is discerning if the destination is sustainable, is it in fact that magical place where we belong. 20 years ago I finally answered the 41 year old calling to be a wilderness hermit. I’m still here living my dream, I give thanks daily. May good fortune swamp over you Sha’Tara and carry you to your true destiny. mike and lori.

  3. katharineotto

    I wouldn’t throw away the key until I had another place to sleep. The walk sounds nice, though. When you go back the other way, the views and sounds are all different.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you, Katharine. From the thinking I was doing, am doing, the “go back the other way” was/is not an option. It has to be “one way” only, an irrevocable decision. At least that’s how it feels.

      1. katharineotto

        Of course I can’t know your thinking or presume to give advice. I do believe nothing is final, or ever finished. One thing just evolves into another. I can say I’ve burned lots of bridges and thrown away lots of keys, but I’m not so quick to do that anymore.

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        Thanks for your comment, Katharine. The physical/material aspect isn’t an issue anymore. I’m living, by the world’s standards of the day, more than comfortably or adequately with enough left over to spread around according to perceived or asked need. As I explained to stolzyblog above, this is a thing of the spirit, all pointing to that final “denouement” of one life before another can begin, that we call death. Looking back it seems I’ve had these ‘death’s a coming’ inspirational moment all my life, even as a child. It meant to engage a different way of living; to take stock of my state of mind and later, possessions, and change. The change was always drastic and costly but seemed necessary. Of course that only makes sense because I know about life’s continuity despite the foolishness of religion and the nay-saying of hard core “Darwinists” who just want to not just die, but end it all there and then. Perhaps they’re afraid of being disappointed if it turned out that their hope in some future life didn’t happen which is rather funny since according to them there’d be nothing there to think that with.

        So life goes on, we come, we go, we return or go somewhere else but it goes on. That’s the issue. On earth, if you want to get promoted on a job, you do it well and go beyond the call of duty to be noticed, to be recognized, to have a chance when you ask for that promotion. Death is either a promotion or a demotion. Which do I want? Tough question, right? One cannot hope for something better than what one is, religious beliefs notwithstanding. You reap what you sow. There are consequences either way. So this mind-heart thing I hinted at metaphorically, it’s about detachment. The good things, the nice, the pretty, the comfortable, the easy, the beliefs, can I let go? Am I ready to start something totally new and strange with only my integrity as my resume? How far will that get me? So, who knows, perhaps the last door, perhaps just another realignment. In either case there’s pain involved and really, I’m tired of pain.

      3. katharineotto

        According to Seth in the Jane Roberts series, the only purpose of suffering is to learn how not to suffer. I’m working on a blog about that.

        Good luck with your quest.

  4. rawgod

    Throw away the key, S’T, if you want my opinion. If your gut wants you to go, and I am sure that it does, listen to it. I used to do that, every seven years, whether I needed to do that or not. And I never regretted it, not once. More like I am regretting not doing it 3 years ago, when my last seven year stretch was up. But somewhere along the line I tied myself down with responsibilities this time, responsibilities only part of me wants to throw away. My present struggle this time is, what happens when I don’t throw everything away? Shouldn’t that be experienced too? No one never said life isn’t easy, but I know from experience the easier life is, the less you are living it. Yup, we are getting older you and I, and certain things are getting harder and harder to do, but we are experience-junkies. We NEED that next new experience to survive! We cannot be alive without it. I’m already looking forward to the end of this (2nd) 7 year stretch — what will I choose then? I live to find out..

    1. kertsen

      ‘Experience – junkies’ a nice turn of phrase but it throws the concept of contentment out of the window. The well known Christian George Herbert believed that even Christians were filled with restlessness. Could it be the silent contemplative also is seeking rest in the minds turmoil? Many go away on holidays believing a change is as good as a rest but some turn into restless wanderers unable to put down roots.
      Duty has always pinned me down and I have had to be contented with very small escapes like a walk in the woods or a dip into a novel.

      1. rawgod

        No problem, kertsen, everyone is different. My understanding is that some do duty and responsibility, some do new experience and new people. Some even figure out a way to do both. No one is wrong, as long as what they are doing is what they want to be doing. And as long as they don’t require everyone to be like them. That is when things become problematic.
        I don’t know Sha’Tara well, in fact I barely know her at all, yet. But I can hear the yearning in her spirit, the desire to not be tied down. Some people ignore that yearning, others embrace it. And of course, the younger a person is, the easier it is to fulfill those yearnings. As a person ages, especially to the senior years, the unknown becomes scarier than the known. Roots may be deep or shallow, but they are still roots, and they are hard to uproot. It is the quandary I am experiencing right now, and I am having a very difficult time because for once in my life I have made it possible to go either way, or impossible to do just one. The last time I felt like this I was 21 years old, so 47 years ago. I didn’t yet understand the choice that had to be made: get married and settle down, or leave my home and friends to see what the world had to offer, and what I had to offer the world. I hate go have to admit it, but I never got to truly make that choice. The woman I was engaged to loved me very much (and I her) but her parents did not think me worthy of her. They sent her away to another country to “get some perspective.” She never changed her perspective, so they made one more attempt to split us up, and it worked to perfection, for them . If she married me, they cut her off from everything she knew as home and family. If she split up with me, she would get everything they had (and they had a lot) as well as a brand new house as a wedding present once she found someone who more fit her station in life. She screamed, dhe cried, and she chose the latter. She didn ‘t have the strength to be disinherited and kicked out of her family.
        That, of course, made up my mind. It wasn’t the time to settle down, so off I went to othrr pastures. In the end, it was the better path for me. Had I stayed, I would never have discovered myself or the power that was waiting inside me. I would never have met the great people I met in the many places I got to go.
        Why am I telling you all this? Because at 68 years of age I am feeling that wanderlust all over again. The world is a different place now than when I was 21, or 28, or 35, etc. Not that I stayed 7 years in each place, some less and some more. But about 7 years was when the wanderlust hit its hardest, and 2018 marks my 14th year with the woman I am currently with. We own a house, complete with mortgage, some horses, a business, and we are owned by 5 cats. She has no desire to change any of that. Meanwhile I am feeling constricted, tied down, in need of new people and new experience. There are good reasons to stay, good reasons to go. I am conflicted, just as S’T sounded conflicted. And I know nothing I say will cause her to stay or go. But I feel her pain… and I want to ease it…

      2. kertsen

        That’s quite a story , it seems to me you are fixed now but I don’t know much about the strength of wanderlust being mainly a stick in the mud type. You are in a predicament because of long term dependency and to tear your life and other lives apart is tough. Tell me when you upped sticks and moved on did you maintain any contact or was it a clean break? Did you not wonder what was going in the place you left behind?
        As a boy I lived in north London and over the years I have made nostalgic journeys to those old childhood haunts. It’s an attempt to recapture the past but of course we are not the same person anymore. People go to distant parts to see new wonders but it has not been my way as I’m only attached to those parts I lived in and those faces I knew.
        ‘ To muse and brood and live in memory , with those old faces of my infancy.’

      3. rawgod

        That’s a very good question, kertsen, and not an easy one to answer. Each time I uproot myself, I do my best to maintain friendships, and even loves. But the old adage of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” does not seem to apply here. The people who are left behind soon close the created gaps by returning to the friends and loves that were there before I came, and still there after I left. Email helped a lot, much better and easier than long-distance phone calls and letters that don’t always reach their destinations, but even that wears thin. I come from a large family, but there are only 2 or 3 siblings I stay in touch with to varying degrees of attachment, but even that is not the same as it used to be.
        When it comes to childhood friends, I am not in touch with anyone I knew before I was 20. Friends I made on the west coast of Canada have all moved on. Friends I made on the east coast just stopped writing. People from other places, they all rely on social media to stay in touch, and I am not a social media type. From all my time on earth, not counting my present situation, I would have to say I only have one friend left, and I have not even spoken to her for probably 6 months now. Her life has headed in another direction, and we don’t seem to have too much in common at the present time. But that will probably change again, or it always has in the past.
        So am I a lonely person,you might well ask? The answer is yes and no. Over the years I have learned to live without close friends, but I have also learned to become close friends with people I have never met, such as everyone here on WordPress. Friends, of course, is not the proper word, all we can see of each other is what we show in our blogs and comments. There is a definite connection, a sense of spiritual closeness, which may or may not rise to the height of actual spirituality as I use the term , but whatever that is, it is is there, and I can feel it.
        Still, I have learned to depend upon myself to live, in good times and in bad. I am much stronger now than ever I was as a child or teenager. I have learned to know myself, and to be myself at all times. What you see is what I am. And that scares a lot of people. I hope it won’t scare you.
        Because now I have a question or two for you. How is your life for having not moved around, for having been a homebody? Do you wish you could have lived it differently? Do you experience loneliness? Are you happy with who you are, and the friends you have today?
        That is a life I cannot even dream of. What is it like to be you?

      4. kertsen

        I understand how contacts fall away I have had the same experience when changing jobs ; a few visits to the old firm and a slow separation is the usual pattern. We can only really have regular contact with those who live nearby , in spite of modern technology, or those who work in the same building and who we have no choice but to meet every day. Next door neighbours may only nod acquaintance for twenty years. Of course friends can be too close or even stifling and we long for freedom from others and all the problems they give us.
        I’m retired with my precious wife in a small bungalow by the sea with two small dogs and two cats , we have four children all long flown but the farthest about 80 miles away . Our daughter is the nearest at 14miles and the three boys dotted around . Our parents are gone and we are next in line but we have a few relatives with whom we have only occasional contact as they all have busy involved lives.
        I have moved jobs having been a warehouse man , a milkman, a painter , a filing clerk, a storeman , a laborer on a building site , and I have even worked in a posh Public School. Never in positions of high authority and never in my own business. I have no brothers or sisters and my wife has only one brother who died of lung cancer. I’ve seen plenty but never moved far especially outside of the British Isles. I’m not the lonely type but if my dear wife passed before me I’m not too sure how I would react but it would be for the best as I would not like to leave her alone.
        Regrets ! well most people generally claim to have had none but I believe we all have them ; I wish I could have had far more leisure in my working life and earned more money to treat my family and friends , but perhaps the relative hardship was good for us all who can say?

      5. rawgod

        Thank you for the synopsis of your life. Your working life seems to have been of great importance to you, even as it is for most men. But while you gave me some glimpses into who you are as a person, I wish I had seen more of that.
        Please don’t get me wrong, this was not unexpected. Our Greek/Roman-based culture does that to men, getting them to define themselves in terms of their work and their earning power (your wishing you could have earned more money) while basically ignoring what you have earned as a person, as a living being.
        I can’t really say even a woman might define herself that way, most women define themselves in terms of family, and especially their children. Who knows, had I had children, even I might have talked about them first, or directly after the jobs I had.
        But I come from a different direction altogether, because I define myself above all things else as the changes I have gone through in this life, how I moved from being a victim of physical and mental abuse to a strong believer that spirituality, and the belief in life, are the two most important things a person could do in one lifetime.
        These are, for me, and I don’t care if for anyone else, the major purpose in being given the gift of life.
        Oh, these are tangled webs we weave, especially if we do not practice to deceive. Every living being alive in this universe is at a particular place in their journey of life, IF YOU WILL ALLOW ME the concept of reincarnation. Where each being is along their journey helps them to define what they see as their pupose in life. To the best of my knowledge, if a bug could communicate to a human what they see as their purpose, it would probably be to survive, and to procreate. Most likely there would be nothing else. But some creatures, especially humans, can have another purpose to add to the first two just attributed to our bug. That purpose is to improve the state of the world the living being finds itself in. And in my opinion, this is how we can best define ourselves.
        I don’t know, kertsen, does any of this make sense to you, or do I just sound like an old fool?

      6. Sha'Tara Post author

        Quote: “To the best of my knowledge, if a bug could communicate to a human what they see as their purpose, it would probably be to survive, and to procreate. Most likely there would be nothing else. But some creatures, especially humans, can have another purpose to add to the first two just attributed to our bug. That purpose is to improve the state of the world the living being finds itself in. And in my opinion, this is how we can best define ourselves.”
        Couldn’t agree more. Keep those thoughts coming, rg.

      7. rawgod

        Love to, S’T, but it takes inspiration from everyone else, and I never know where it (inspirstion) is going to come from. As I was trying to tell Gronda a few days ago, I am an idea man. Sometimes those ideas do exist in a vacuum, but usually they come from all my WordPress friends. If I could anticipate where my mind will go next, I could probably have time to give things more pre-thought, instead of just writing off the cuff as I usually do, which is why I so often feel like I am presenting muddled thinking. I wish I could be more clear in what I am trying to say. But as it is I have to rely on my subconscious, because that seems to be where all the prep time takes place. At least, I think that is where most of my material is coming from…

      8. kertsen

        My working life was a survival necessity as is the working life of billions. I was lucky to do a bit better than just eat and sleep because I was born into a rich nation. Money is freedom , not necessarily satisfaction , it removes need to work and billions strive to attain that end. Like all persons I earned a multitude of experiences , rubbing shoulders with mainly working men . I had my share of smoking and drinking and the usual stupidity of youth. I’m not so sure about life being a gift I would say that depends on your experience , it’s a gift some might well wish they had not been given . No you are not a fool but someone who is seeking answers as many do , personally I think reincarnation is a way of making sense of the world rather like religion it gives life a purpose and being self-conscious beings that is important for us.
        The vast majority of humans seek in their own way to improve the world but their main concern is improving their own and their families lot.
        This leads me on to the debate as to whether we as a race are in charge of the world ; I think not because we do not act in unison.

      9. rawgod

        Thank you for your insights. In my opinion we could not be in charge of the world even if we did act in unison. There are too many variables for any person, group, race, or species to be in control of anything, and as I understand the world, that is the best way to be.
        If anyone does want to argue that humans are in control of the Earth, the only way that could be is in the negative sense. Yes, we are capable of destroying the world and all life on it, but that does not mean we are in control, just that we are capable of stopping anyone else from being in control. This is actually disaster, should any human dare to push the button that destroys the world. We can only hope cooler heads will prevail.
        But this brings us to the theory of chaos. In my mind chaos is the only control the world, indeed the universe has. It is the hope of all life. Without chaos life would never have risen above the stage of the one-celled lifeforms, and it is only chaos that has led to every evolutionary advancement life has ever made, physically or spiritually.
        And it is the spiritual advancements I am seeking out, the ones that will bring all life into a harmonious chorus. Chaos gives us these advancements by trying things that no controling power could ever imagine to try. Control happens step by step. Situation A leads to situation B leads to situation C, “ad nauseum infinitum.” Chaos, on the other hand makes strange jumps, completes random connections, doesn’t read the “How To” book. Chaos considers the equation 1 + 1 and makes it equal to 113, or 72,5, or -1 if it wants to.
        Chaos will never state 1 + 1 = 2, nor should it ever state that. That is why it is chaos. So, on top of searching our spiritual advancements, I am always on the lookout for chaotic advancements. The real problem is to recognize them when you see them…

      10. kertsen

        You could call quantum mechanics a sort of chaos but it is still subject to the mathematical laws of chance . Heisenberg triggered it all off with his uncertainty principle which limited what could be known about any sub atomic particle. We can talk about chances but not about certainties. It sounds a bit like the modern weather forecasts. A few years ago now I read the book ‘ A Town like Alice by Nevil Shute it’s apocalyptic and rather grim but gripping and you reminded me of it when you mentioned pushing the button.
        Professor Penrose believes that consciousness is linked to quantum mechanics but his hypothesis is not popular among scientists.

  5. Sha'Tara Post author

    Thank you rg. Yes, we certainly are “experienced junkies” as you put it! Yes we’ve “been around, seen a few things.” A “veteran” of three failed marriages and other relationships, always driving partners away with my inescapable changes. I learned that most ‘normal’ people don’t like those they would control to suddenly change on them and they no longer know your pressure points, can’t find those handles and the trigger words don’t produce the intended results! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, I am definitely looking at throwing away another key… or changing the locks at least, though I mean that in a spiritual sort of way, not an actual leaving of a place. There is no place on this world I could ever call home; no place I am either attached to, would wish to return to or have any longing to move to. This, though it was expressed in physical terms is an inner call; a warning that “change” is about to manifest and in my mind, fearing he unknown somewhat, I was trying to make myself OK with it, whatever “it” is going to be. Anticipate, prepare, when I already know I can’t do that, I can only experience what the change is going to throw at me again. So meanwhile…instead of running ahead of the storm, wait for it, knowing it is coming, though not from which direction? I think that is what makes life interesting: the inescapable quality of it.
    There you go, see? Made me think and ramble on again in that internal, eternal journey… good job.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Throwing away the key is the easy part in that, George. The fading away, I hear it’s possible, don’t know! Maybe you should ask you character, Paul about that but don’t do it by having your head explode. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. kertsen

      You will don’t hasten things ; some being buried believe their molecules are spread again by sunlight and soil into new life , or perhaps the nitrates which fertilize the ground are absorbed into animal bodies as they eat the graveyard vegetation. Thinking about it those cremated will add to atmospheric gases ( God forbid carbon dioxide) , but the ashes will return to the soil . So even in death we do not disappear but perhaps keen greenhouse types should insist on burial , but it takes up a lot of space. The good news is it gives grave diggers employment but these days a single man with a good machine can do the work of a thousand shovelers.

      1. kertsen

        Yes sometimes I just can’t help it but it does demonstrate that it’s difficult to decide on the right course of action even when your planning your funeral , let alone how to lead your active life. Oscar Wilde put it much more neatly ‘ I’m dying beyond my means ‘.

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        Quote: “Yes sometimes I just canโ€™t help it but it does demonstrate that itโ€™s difficult to decide on the right course of action even when you’re planning your funeral , let alone how to lead your active life. Oscar Wilde put it much more neatly โ€˜ Iโ€™m dying beyond my means โ€˜.
        Oscar Wilde certainly had a lot of “quotable quotes” on a broad range of subjects! Speaking on America he says something like, “What other nation can make the claim that it went from barbarism to industrialism without passing through a process of civilization.” Have to agree with him on that one.
        The “right” course of action is always “right” until the circumstances or awareness that led to it, change. Then it’s back to the drawing board.
        I have an idea for those keen greenhouse types you mention when planning their funeral. As in “Water World” they could donate their bodies to be used to build up soil around those south seas coral atoll islands that are being swamped by either a rising sea from ice melt, or as I suspect rather, a rising shift in the ocean floor.

  6. stolzyblog

    First off, your environs have some nice ducks. Only get 3-4 species here on my river. About this tugging feeling… it reminds me of a recurring crazy idea I had, early 20s, about just walking north one day, from NJ to Hudson Bay — no plan — see what happens: would an Eskimo suddenly appear and save me from an imminent polar bear? Would the pure landscape invest me with a gradual epiphany rendering the whole project moot and transformed? I think the feeling was from a general lack of enthusiasm over life’s/society’s presented options. Within 5 years this idea looked pretty silly. But you are not being literal. This more inward shedding of skin calls for a more subtle approach. I think something like waiting with intense expectation, sacred waiting, waiting with every inner sense sharpened for clues about what one part of you detects as approaching, but the other parts cannot yet fathom.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      You’re right, it’s not about a physical movement, but about a spiritual tidal wave. Something warns of its coming and you want to flee, run to higher ground, but in this case, as borne by experience, there is no higher ground, no escape. So after the initial panic you say, “OK, other such experiences helped me grow, some through great pain and loss, maybe this one’s intent is to wipe away more accumulations of unneeded detritus, to force new and necessary understanding of what detachment really is all about. At my age a wise person prepares for death and perhaps what I feel is that door opening. I would like to think I am ready, but who is ever, unless they are in a situation where death is preferable to continuance? I shall see.

  7. Rosaliene Bacchus

    To me, throwing away the key to our home is symbolic of letting go of the material things that hold us to our world. You could, as Mike and Lori did, sell your property and pursue a simpler lifestyle. Whatever you choose to do, I see you on the threshold of a new consciousness, a path you’ve been on for some time now. Let the black willows and Glaucous-winged gulls be your guide.

  8. Lisa R. Palmer

    This is beautiful, Sha’Tara, and it reflects a fantasy that used to haunt me consistently. I desperately wanted to do this very thing – to walk away and throw away the key. Death as an end result was no deterrent at all, but the dying part always gave me pause. For as my mind reached for the freedom that such a walkaway promised, it also automatically started filling in the realistic details, and dying is often painful, messy, and frightening in the moment…

    Your essay takes me back there, to those promise-filled fantasy thought balloons, and the harsh realities that always grounded them. A bittersweet trip down memory lane. Thank you!

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      …and in re-reading your comment, I mean to add, when we indulge such fantasy, are we mentally running from, or running to, and can we actually tell them apart? A mixture of longing and fear, desire and disgust. Certainly a heart-mind stretching, cleansing exercise. It’s like vacuuming with intent to really clean and discovering those little piles of insect dung in hidden corners, or translucent cobwebs behind books and the stove pipe we are shocked to realize had been there for weeks collecting dust and we never saw them.


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