Day 1210 – Day 1219
I’ve wrapped up my work before the holiday weekend and part of that was sorting through things in my office and at home, to make sure that anything that must be done in 2017 gets put at the top of the agenda for the few days we have before the New Year. Sorting through paperwork, I came across old letters, emails and transcripts of text messages from someone who made my life a living hell. My first thought was to throw them out, without revisiting them. And that was a self-care move. My second thought was, however, to make something from them. And so, I’ve gathered them all and I’m not sure what I will do with them, but they will be used to construct something wonderful.
I recently meditated with my meditation group and I usually have a powerful meditation when I am gathered with others. Something that became certain was that I need to clear things that no longer serve me, from my life. I did this in a big way in London but when I returned to Canada, I was given a load of my mother’s things and other things from family. I rented a big apartment just to house all the stuff. In the 15 months I’ve been home, I’ve accumulated more, in terms of a new kayak paddle and some hiking gear as well as lots of lovely art supplies.
I have too much stuff to be happy.
I’m a writer and so I’ve kept old journals. I struggle to let those go.
I have my mother’s wedding dress. I will never wear it. I don’t know if anyone in the next generation wants to wear it, but I will struggle to let that one go, as well.
And yet, I am happiest with the least amount of stuff. I have two entree bowls. (One plus a spare for company) I prefer entree bowls to plates. I also have 3 full sets of dishes – only one of which is actually my own. What does one person need with 3 sets of handed down vintage dishes? Or, a closet full of towels? I just feel overwhelmed by the weight of it all.
Sometimes we hold on to things and to relationships far longer than is healthy for us. The longer we hold on, the more bonded we are to them and the harder it then becomes to let them go. But letting things go is the only way to make space for ourselves and for fresh and more suitable things and people and experiences to find their way into our lives.
And so, I’m grateful to have had a reminder of my mother in these dishes and her wedding dress. But I’ve lived for over 20 years away from my family of origin and I didn’t have these material items in my life. And yet, I still held on to my love and memories of my mother. I don’t need them. I’m grateful that one of the things she passed on to me was a reluctance to waste things and on the flip side, an absolute lack of sense of herself being derived from things. I am grateful, too, that I have more than I need, rather than less than I need and that I have the privilege of giving things away.
I know it is going to get increasingly difficult to let go of things as I pare down the initial non-sentimental items and get to those things with memories attached to them. But there will be joy on the other side of this. My goal is to have so little that I could live in a tiny home with a workshop for art and glass and woodworking. I also know that the studio space does not have to be a part of my home. For me, the less I have – as long as I have the bare essentials plus a tiny bit of luxury – the more joy I have in my life. To be honest, my goal is to detach so completely that all I own will – by my own choice – fits into a backpack. And on that day, I hope that I am well enough to begin my final adventure as I walk the planet. It is a dream not many would share but it is my dream, nonetheless.
My word for 2018 as I head into it is ‘Clearing’ and the second word that comes to mind is ‘Simplify’.
I think a part of this is also healing. Take the text messages and email transcripts, for example. To throw them away is a form of clearing but that just generates waste. To use them to create something beautiful, to me, is a metaphor for all the internal work I have been doing in the wake of the pain. And likewise, to find new homes and new uses for the things that no longer serve me and to release those relationships that have been outgrown will be a release of creative energy for all involved. And that, is a great service that I can do for the world and for those nearest me, in 2018.
Going through all these papers today has been a little re-living of 2017 and a bit of 2016. I see the ups and downs of the year, the hardships and the wonderful moments and the heartache along the way. And I feel connected to each version of me that stood in those moments as they happened. They shaped who I am, right now. Some of those times were excruciatingly painful but I survived them. I’ve done my best to work on moving beyond survival and into finding some meaning in the painful moments and a sense of purpose within the easier times.
Maybe this seems a strange post as we head into a holiday weekend where most of us will come home with things we need to make room for in our lives, whether we wanted them or not. But as I passed through this past year or so clearing my office and as I begin to pass through my lifetime and the lifetime of my ancestors as I clear my household possessions, I am grateful to have the experience of doing this in both London and New York, so that I’ve gained the confidence that I will be able to let it all go.