The clothes make the man.
Beauty is on the inside.
The emperors’ new clothes.
Such are some of the euphemisms related to clothes. You know, those things we adorn to: 1) hide our body, 2) protect ourselves from the elements, 3) uniquely express our individuality or even demonstrate a common bond with others. So simple and yet so complicated all at the same time.
I have been knee deep in clothes as of late. In packing for this drastic life change, I envisioned a “return” to conventional life. Like, when I am done with this, I should be prepared to just pick up where I left off. I kept lots of clothes in preparation for the end. That is what I thought, anyway. Either that or staying on the road for ever and ever and ever. I was not sure what the future held for me. Over two years later and neither of these things has happened. All that planning for nothing.
Which leads me to all of my clothes. I now have my worldly goods here with me in Texas. Boxes and bags and totes full of THINGS! Useful things like my kitchen tools. Useless things like push pins and two hole punches. Memorable things like photos and letters and articles. I have things with purpose and things for decoration. Too many things. Then there are the clothes.
I remember selling some of my shoes. I spent pretty good money on shoes to help take care of my feet. I also spent good money on clothes. Lots and lots of clothes. I currently have four large trash bags full. Mostly professional office-y sort of clothes. I tend to like strong colors and bold patters, I noticed. I did a lot of layers, as an actual sweater in the winter in the office was just too hot. I gravitated all over the color spectrum less the pastel family. I don’t really do pastel. But, man do I have clothes!
My wardrobe on the road has been scant and built with purpose. Honestly, if you hit a laundry once every couple of weeks, you do not need that much. I did have to plan for a wide spectrum of weather and had no fun when I was unable to stay warm. It was hard, though, staying within my limit. I did get tired of the same things, the repetitive redundancy of limited options. On the other hand, I did not have to think that hard to get dressed. My choices were based on what was clean, the weather, what activities I would be participating in and for how long. Utilitarian function and not form. A purpose-driven approach to couture.
Shortly after I I first hit the road I made some immediate changes. I had to let go of a few things and trade what I had for different things. When I found myself with the wrong sorts of pants, I got rid of those and acquired the pants that I needed. Then I had to adjust for weather, again adding more of what I needed and getting rid of that which served no or little purpose. I have an eclectic mix of expensive performance clothes and inexpensive second-hand or free finds. It has served me well.
Each of my various jobs required me to add a few items to the clothing collection. Mostly, these additions were on the cheap, useful for that job, and understood to be a temporary addition. As I moved through these positions, I have left mostly clothes behind. Well, some great memories and awesome people, too. But, leaving behind the clothes that were added only for that job or situation.
In sifting through the clothes of my professional life, I ponder and think, I remember and I lament. I even play dress up here and there. I remember how the clothes made me feel, how long I had them, and who I was when I wore them. I remember the image I was trying to portray in those clothes and the standards I was trying to meet. I think about the money spent on these clothes, having achieved both quality and quantity. Man, the other things I could have done with that money.
After a night of dress up and sorting the clothes of my former life, I got ready as usual and went to my current job. I realized that I am just the same in my current daily work clothes as I am in fancy professional clothes. I realized the person I was in that life is in the past and not the person I am now. I realized that I am living a more authentic and joyful life. I realize that 20 shirts will not quiet the restless voices of your soul. Though the red shoes were fun, they did not help me feel complete. But, just to have more clothes… nope. Not needed. I did what I thought I was supposed to do and, looking back, received no or very little fulfillment in return. Those clothes did not bring me peace.
I have four large bags filled with clothes. I am donating all of these clothes. I am shedding another layer of who I am in an effort to reveal more of the person I am becoming. I seek to know who I am unclothed, exposed and “naked”. I am way more in touch with what makes me happy, what brings me joy, and to hearing the whispers of the Universe when I have lost my way. These bags of clothes will go on to bring someone else joy, help them meet a standard, or meet a purpose they currently have. Maybe some of these clothes will help someone feel pretty or special. My time with these clothes is over and I happily pass them on.
Full disclosure – I did keep some! I kept a couple dresses, a skirt, my boots and three pair of dressier shoes. I kept a couples pair of pants that are not tactical pants but are designed for the out of doors. I have enough outfits for a few dates. I am now prepared to go all girlie and kick up my non-existent heels in a big city. Sometimes I just want to feel pretty, to feel feminine, and to feel special. I kept a few outfits to help facilitate that.
In the end, these clothes did not bring me the lasting peace and happiness I now have. These clothes brought me a temporary satisfaction to a long-standing angst. These clothes can now leave.
Cheers to all the ways we express who we are and all the ways we continue to grow.
Cheers to shedding any layers of false representation and living in our own skin.
Cheers to the many sides of US!