As we go through life, we collect a lot of things. Some things are disposable, some things are utilitarian, and some things carry special memories. As I look around my home, today, we still have a TON of stuff, most of which will not fit into our motorhome. How do I decide what to carry, and what to eliminate?
In our living room, I use the top of a chest to display prized items – curios and collectables from our world travels. A few months ago, the hanger on a painting just above the chest mysteriously gave way. The painting crashed down, sweeping off most of the items onto the tile floor, smashing them into bits. The Waterford crystal lamp that we purchased in Ireland. One of the two clay jars we picked up in Peru. A crystal statue given to me by a choir member. Smashed into a million pieces. I swept it all up, secured the hanger onto the painting and re-hung it. A couple of days later, it fell again, smashing most of the rest of the items on the chest! I should have been upset, but somehow, I just ….. wasn’t. When I searched my feelings, I realized that I wasn’t truly attached to any of the broken items. In fact, I was a bit relieved that it meant a few less “things” to deal with as I purged our possessions.
Do you believe in divine intervention and signs from our departed loved ones? Call me crazy, but I do. I know the whole “painting crashing down” thing was a message to me, not a mean message, but a mechanism to help me realize that I’m really NOT attached to that stuff. It can all go away, and I’m truly OK with that. Because I’ll tell you that what did NOT get broken was a small bowl made by my deceased son in high school pottery class. It was left completely untouched. That was precious. The other things were not. I got the message. And after re-securing the hanger one more time and re-hanging the painting, it has not fallen again.
A few weeks ago, I tackled our photographs. I had literally boxes of photographs taken over the years before we went digital. I sorted through them and scanned the ones I wanted to keep. It took days! But now, those boxes are gone and I have kept (digitally) the ones that meant something to me. It was interesting how many photos didn’t mean anything to me — after years of trips to the Smoky Mountains, one mountain photo looks very much like another! The important photos were of people, not places.
I also went through a box of items that I’ve carried around for years, things I’ve kept since I was a teenager. There were cards from my grandmother, little trinkets, and lots of academic awards (OK, I was a good student). I haven’t looked at them for years, so how precious is it, really? I cherished everything, scanned a few items to keep digitally, and let the rest go. I don’t have to keep the things to have the memories.
It’s freeing to let things go. The memories will always be mine.