Thursday, December 29, 2011

On The Process of Letting Go

Hi, my name is Laura and I am NOT a pack rat. No, really- I'm in a perpetual state of purging my belongings; getting rid of anything with no dynamic use or purpose. (I have way less clothes and shoes than the average female. True story.) I thought paring down would be a breeze. I mean, I basically lived out of a suitcase for 2 years while I was in Hawaii. Granted, I was 18 then, but I still had my own apartment, albeit, much less stuff furnishing it. 

But here I am with a 6 year accumulation tattle-tailing that I've nested into my cozy townhouse. Now what do I do? I've formed relationships with some of these items. We have histories, and they hold secrets of moments not a single living soul knows about. And what do I do with sentimental little items such as my mother's rings that I used to sit on her bed, dump out and pore over each one over and over again that I will never wear, the small box of trinkets and letters from friends over the years, the items people have brought me from their adventures overseas, the cedar chest my pappap made that was in my mom's room and was always filled with blankets my grandma made and smelled of mothballs , etc etc etc...??

Going in, I thought I'd be all dramatic and get rid of virtually everything that didn't fit into my car. Upon further consideration, there are some things that cannot be replaced. They have value aside from their status as "stuff" (like the rather large cedar chest that my sister has graciously said could be stored in her attic). Other items need to be released... such as the enormous and tattered college t-shirt that belonged to my sweet friend I lost several years ago. In the moment I picked up the shirt, I had an entire conversation with him in my head. I knew he'd give me a look and say something along the lines of, "Really, Laura? Do you need to take that? I'm not the shirt- why carry it with you?"

It's difficult to keep my tears at bay as I write this because I know he would be my most emphatically enthusiastic supporter in this decision. His last words: "You only live once."

I've only got one chance at this life. I am going to make the best of it.

And so, what do I do with all of my "stuff"? I'm selling and donating things that I have no attachment to, giving things to friends and family that have meaning beyond just being an item, and the things that remind me of how I've made it to this point- the things that remind me of where I want to go and who I want to be? Well... as far as that t-shirt goes, a newly acquired friend suggested I cut out the logo and remake it into something useful. I think I'm going to sew it into the liner of my suitcase as a reminder that I only live once- safety is an illusion. He taught me that years ago. I'm just now beginning to learn the meaning of it. 

What will I do with the rest of the things to which I have some sort of attachment that I don't -really- need? I'll say my goodbyes to most items in phases. And now that I'm thinking in terms of remaking things into being useful, I think there will be several post-Christmas gifts of items that are dear to me given to people who are dear to me. What better way to honor the memory of something than by giving it new meaning and life? 


  1. This is really great Laura. It makes me want to evaluate all my stuff and I am not going anywhere.

  2. aw, thanks peggy. i really love the quote "simplify, simplify"- this move is forcing me to learn that on a whole new level :)

  3. Hi Laura - I remember all the rings! I am also having difficulties with sentimental things while I'm trying to downsize (after having to move my Mom's stuff to a storage unit a few weeks ago because her apartment manager said she was overcrowded with storage boxes, I'm more determined). I have a broken horse show trophy that I've hauled around for about 45 years, for instance. What the? I believe you are on the path to freedom from stuff, especially as you quote Campbell - and didn't you have that link to the Get rid of clutter - 100 possessions guy? Thanks for your insightful blog!