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The Tenants

Updated: May 26, 2022

During the Glen Cairn community clean up, in London, Ontario we had the chance to meet new people and have some fun while helping our community. We went to a park and our mission was to clean it up. As I arrived, I couldn't help but notice the park looked cleaner than I did... I couldn't stop thinking that what we were about to do was going to be a waste of our time, and I felt like we were cleaning a clean park; like I was opening the drier, taking out the clothes just to throw them back in the washer machine for a second round.

Regardless, I was not there only to clean up... I was there to spend some time with my family and friends while helping our community, so I centred my attention on following instructions: walk around the park, and walk into the darkest areas between the high grass, plants and trees. Every grown up was given a trash bag (a big one) to fill, and at the time it felt like a waste of resources; We were chatting while picking up a wrapper, a piece of plastic, a can, or a plastic bottle. Everything on the surface looked perfectly clean, but I began to change my mind as we started walking deeper and deeper, closer to the trees.

Long story short, we got more than 20 bags completely full of trash, rags, broken glass, very old, dirty and stinky clothes, and the bones of what could have been a possum or perhaps a raccoon. On what I thought was the east side of the park, we were able to find a handmade tent for perhaps three people, a rug of a decent size, some more clothes, and what seemed to be a very rustic living room around a rather improvised fire pit. The obvious conclusion was: “there were tenants here”.

As I was picking up someone else's belongings. I started to become a little bit afraid as I was thinking: “What if somebody still lives here and is going to come in at any moment and asks what in the world I am doing to their home?” It really looked like nobody was going to come back, but I couldn't help myself. Then, considering I was not alone, I calmed myself trying to think that if something happened, there would be people there to help me out. As I came back to my senses, I began to realize perhaps this park could be a strange reflection of our lives. Everything seems to be very decently clean and neat. Perhaps from a high level, people could say we have a perfect and nice life. But as we let people into our lives, they could start to notice that "there were tenants there".

A tenant could be somebody that hurt us long time ago. A tenant might as well be the parent that we were never able to impress or please despite all the effort we made. A tenant could be that old habit that is not leaving us, but we try to hide and nobody seems to notice it is there. A tenant could also be the memory of something we did in the past and never dared to confess to anybody (let along forgive ourselves for). All of these things; all of these people, perhaps, are long gone from our lives and yet, there could be a place reserved in our hearts for them; and even though we have been trying to let go for years, the thought of them coming back to chase us still scares us, so we choose to do nothing about it.

The saddest part of all of this is that perhaps the only reason why we refuse to let go, is that the solution that soothes us best is to ignore this for years. Then, as time goes by we come to think that we are uncapable of getting rid of them. However, this is not about forgetting the past; It's about cleaning the house to get ready for the future, to have a healthy present, despite our history.

I guess my invitation today would be: reach out to someone that you can really trust and talk over a cup of coffee, or a beer, or something; or even do the exercise by yourself. Walk into those deep and dark places of your life, mind and soul, and write down a list of items that you need to get rid of.

Sometimes the bravest thing we could ever do is simply some housekeeping In order to start our journey to become FreeInDeed. Perhaps we can help!

Because that's what we're meant to be!

By Dan Hernandez

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