Captain Fantastic Cleans House Before His Final Journey (Part 3)

Death Cleaning

This is the 3rd part in my series of reflections on “Captain Fantastic.” The first addressed the film’s theme. The second recalled how Peggy and I attempted to live, like the film’s hero, “off the grid.” This final posting offers my reflections on what’s happened to us over the last 20 years as family considerations have made us compromise.

I’ll be moving on soon.
They say to CT.
But, really, I know
It’s far beyond.
So (as other Swedes put it) I’m ‘death cleaning.’
 
That means getting rid of
All that stuff which
(Pace, Captain Fantastic, please!)
I’ve managed to accumulate over 77 years
To save my kids the trouble.
 
What a burden it is!
Books I once labored over and annotated so carefully
And loved and left and forgot
Like my forsaken lovers.
Reduced to inert, mute strangers now
With nothing to say.
Computers and cell phones
And chargers and wires
I don’t even know what they’re for.
Not to mention the clothes and shoes
I haven’t worn for years.
It all cost me (or somebody) thousands.
But now I can’t give it away.
(No one else knows what those wires are for either!)
 
Then there’s this old house
In Berea, Kentucky
Just seven minutes away
From the place I worked those 40 years.
Where I’m now a stranger
And must show my card to babies
Born when I was sixty
Who guard the shiny gadgets
in the college gym
And ask ‘Mike Who?’
 
We bought this place 20 years ago.
Painted it twice
Finished the basement
Rented it to students
Bought a lake house in Michigan
And a pontoon Party Boat,
Acquired 2 Volvos (used)
This Apple Watch on my wrist
And more green paper
Than I know what to do with
Along with countless other trinkets.
 
And now I’m about to leave it all
With little to show.
In the end (and I’m close now)
It all means nothing.
Did it ever?
Surely, you agree.
 
Once in my early days
I gave no value to such things.
Then, I took literally
The Master’s words (And still do!)
“What does it profit a man
If he gains the whole world,
And loses his soul.”
 
So, at the age of 14,
I gave it all up
(With joy and such earnestness!)
Left home and family
And for about 20 years
Lived (as a communist, I guess)
Owning very little of what they call ‘mine.’
Wore the same clothes as everyone else.
Ate the same food
Making no choices anywhere
And wanting nothing more
Even gave up women and sex
And the prospect of family.
What freedom then!
And I didn’t even know it.
 
Meanwhile, I accumulated nothing there
But learned to pray
To think deeply
About things that matter
Ultimately.
To realize that possessions
Are merely dreams
That in the end (like now)
Mean nothing at all.
 
I hope to take most of that with me
When I move on
And wake up from this dream.
Don’t you?

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 44 years. Three grown children. Four grandchildren.

5 thoughts on “Captain Fantastic Cleans House Before His Final Journey (Part 3)”

  1. Our treasure is not of this world, and also of this world. It is there from the beginning, and always, but we are engaged in discovering and appreciating it. Peace be with all who are walking this Path…………… (And knowingly or unknowingly, we are All walking on this Great Way, towards the Emerald City of Divine Love.)

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  2. About the books. I have owned thousands of books (not exaggerating). But though many of them are gone now, or molding on the shelves – they are part of me now, a very important part. These authors and their creations were my teachers and my friends, they will always be with me and in me now, and I am so grateful for them and all they have done for a lonely child/adult seeking fellow truth lovers. All these wonderful writers constitute a cloud of helping spirits in a dimension beyond the world and it’s “ignoble strife”.

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