After my last post – twooooo weeeeeks agooooo – my friend sent me this message:
“What is the secret to parting with possessions? I can’t wrap my brain around it, yet I desperately need to purge. Where do I start when each thing I touch has memories associated with it?”
Oh friend, you tell the entire dilemma in a few dozen words. I have intended to reply so many times, but I fell prey to the urgency of my moving deadline, rather than doing the most important thing first – which is to WRITE.
But your question has never been far from my thoughts, asking itself over and over again – What is the secret? Where do I start? Because truly, I, too, have absolutely no idea how to limit the material of my life to an 11 x 14 bedroom without breaking my own heart.
And so, my perceptive friend, here is the only secret I can tell you about parting with things that you think you need and believe you love:
It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna make you anxious. And that’s why you have to do it.
We are ATTACHED to our things, and SEVERING attachment is PAINFUL. Why should those of us whose affectionate impulses are magnetized by physical symbols feel ashamed that we love and gather objects in order to feel whole, loved, remembered? Attachment is what human beings are built for! Loving your things, even clinging to them, isn’t wrong. What’s wrong is thinking it should be easy, or painless to turn your back on those affections. Only you know if you are ready to face what it means to let go. Only you can decide whether freedom from attachment has become more precious to you than protecting yourself from the pain and fear of letting go.
I am determined to teach myself to act despite my fears. Letting go of a life built around preserving so many things is a concrete way for me to practice. But it isn’t fun, and I am nowhere near the end of saying goodbye.
Wading through things and thoughts without writing the words was a MISTAKE. You offered me a lifeline, friend, with your eloquent question – and finally, I am reaching out to take it. More, tomorrow.
Believe it or not, I struggled with this too. My turning point came when I realized my memories are the things I can truly keep, I won’t forget the experience or person just because I say goodbye to the object. It IS PAINFUL. Good luck dear B!
Tracy my Treasure I feel so blessed knowing you get it…your home is a great example of creativity living abundantly within beautiful surroundings…I want tjis change to help me create more often and live more appreciatively. Thanks my dear!
Funny you should post this! I was listening to someone talk about this very thing – although his take on attachment to the material was rooted in the drive of ambition. He talked about being in the afternoon of his life and ambition giving way to the desire for meaning . He felt the need to travel lighter. I believe we imbue our things with meaning … Sometimes some of our possessions lose their meaning .
Yvette as always you put your finger right on both the oain and the opportunity. Thank you for boosting my courage!
having recently gone through downsizing from a big house with basement and garages… I can say it is painful – initially. BUT absolutely the most liberating process I ever went thorough… all the good things about shedding weight. It put our focus back on to our selves, rather than our stuff. The things we did keep are fewer but intimately known and wanted, because they made it through the vetting due to their extreme usefulness or sentiment.
I hope you will find it as ultimately positive as we did. And best of luck to you Brenda!
Jill this is so inspiring to hear! I do have faith this is a necessary transformation and liberation. But, like quitting smoking, there is some withdrawal pain, perhaps proportionate to how much avoidance my habit is covering up. Thank you for the encouragement!
Thank you for your thoughtful words. I catch glimpses of the lightness of being that comes with being unencumbered by excess “stuff”. I will be brave. You inspire me, you are superwoman.