The last week has been filled with organizing, sorting, discarding and weighing. When trying to decide what stays and what goes, I find myself determining something's worth by the fraction of weight it would consume of my 23 kilo-per-bag-allowance. Items with sentimental value take precedent over something with practical- yet replaceable- application. If it costs more to ship that it would to replace, it gets a new home in Togo. If it is irreplaceable, it comes along. This practice is becoming familiar to me.
All of my international gigs have come without significant shipping allowances, and so now, even when I do have an allowance worth mentioning, I still find myself engaging in the old practice. There is something comforting about knowing that, when I move to this new country, I have carefully chosen exactly what comes along. Some of what makes the cut may seem silly to others: the delicate tea pot that my mother bought all of us girls to match the one she gave my aunt just before she past away. The stunning green Raku bowl my mother hand carried from Japan to give me as an opening night gift for a theatre production that meant the world to me. The silver frame that holds a picture of my dearest friends and I the night before we graduated from college. All of these items anchor me to a sense of "home," a feeling of connectedness to people whom I love, and so the items are worth every ounce that they take from my luggage allowance.
Last night, I was sorting through things and started to realize that I was discarding some items that had been with me through many moves. I paused before setting them out to the curb: was I really ready to let go of these items? Why did they need to go if they had been with me for so long? They were small. It wasn't the weight that mattered, but what they represented. These tangibles were not serving me anymore, not connecting me to something/someone that should be carried forward. They didn't speak to the Erin I am now, and the one I wish to be as I make my way into the second half of a very special year. A year special for reasons I have not talked about with too many people.
This year, the birthday resolution never shared was to make this "The Year of Erin." A year to focus on me- to nurture growth, to challenge old beliefs, and to be open to give and receive love in a way I had always been fearful of doing before. As the months past, I came to understand that this also meant that I had to let go of other things. You see where this is going, don't you? (Forgive me for the tired cliche', but...) I truly had to let go of old baggage. And I had to take in new habits of being more open, advocating for myself, and challenging what I was going to carry around with me into the new year,which also brought the opportunity for a new life.
Now that I am at the half way mark of "The Year of Erin," it is interesting to see how this declaration has manifested itself. I can see that I have been busy saying "NO" to a lot, closing a lot of doors, standing up for MYSELF, pushing hard to get papers signed to end things and new contracts written for new beginnings. I've been reading writings of people I admire, meeting new kinds of people, seeing a fabulous therapist, opening up to people in a new way. It has been a lot of work, filled with some scary moments. What this has all afforded me is an opportunity to see what I want to say "YES" to. It is a bold step for me. I usually stand up for others in a much stronger way than I ever advocate for myself, but that is changing. And it feels really, really good.
None of this is easy or final. We are all works in progress. But as I prepare for this next move, I have to say that I like where I see myself going. I am certain that everything coming with me has been carefully selected, weighed out and evaluated. As much as possible, every item/practice/habit has been measured for the space that it takes up in my life, giving me the opportunity to see what truly serves me. Going forward into the second half of this year is--- what are the words?!?! Exhilarating , scary, thrilling... I cannot wait to see if I chose correctly that which should come along on the journey.
Erin Michelle Threlfall
Theatre Artist, Activist, and Educator, Erin is the mother of a budding genius in his 7th year of study. Erin and her little man, Edem, have a plan to investigate world theatre and influence education one continent at a time. Ghana, South Korea, Togo and Bali have been checked off the list of places to live; these days they call Brooklyn home.