The vending machine in the break room, back where I used to work until recently, is full of unhealthy snacks in neon packaging. Items that would cost a dollar or more to the outside world cost 25 cents to employees.
I have probably eaten a hundred bags of chips purchased from that vending machine. Now, sitting on the desk in my house, is the last bag I will ever fetch from it. I clearly remember being hungry and nervous, day after day, and roving to that machine with the change in my wallet, buying a quick fix. I remember taking the bags home, as I have done with this one, and cramming them down my throat as I reclined in the bathtub, my mind laying flat against the glass edge of the fishbowl I was drifting in, as close as possible to the relaxation that I sought but could not actually reach.
Now I look at this one remaining bag and my stomach rejects it. Divest of that crushing corporate weight, I feel an urge to rid myself of every bad habit, every malformed coping strategy, every stupid wasteful empty activity I physically or mentally wallowed in as I struggled wretchedly to cope with deep, systemic illness.
Today I repaired my iPod and worked on retrofitting my bicycle, enjoying the afternoon sunlight in the back yard while the cat stood watch. I continued to sort through the steaming pile of data crap that I scraped out of my work machine when I bailed from the office. I organized my tools. I arranged a massive library of all the audiobooks, books, and poetry I downloaded over the last two years but had no time to explore.
This is going to be a strange, interesting period for me.
Did you ever see that old Snoopy cartoon - Snoopy Come Home I think - where he and Woodstock go hiking across the countryside? Woodstock travels part of the way by building a tiny, adorable sailboat and drifting up a river. Every now and then, with soft guitar music playing in the background, the wind would change, and blow Woodstock towards a sandbar or back in the wrong direction. Woodstock would untie his sail, wave it around spastically for a moment, and then pull it taut in a slightly different orientation, and magically he would be sailing forward again. Sometimes he had to shake the sail over and over when the wind was being difficult, but he always found a way to catch the wind forward.
This is what it feels like now. I have changed out so many things from my life in the last year, that now I'm getting down to a single row of planks and a single patch of sail. Now life is very simple. I'm shaking the line again, to fill my little sail, and catching the way forward on the wind.