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.