So far this year I have rid our home of hundreds of unwanted, unneeded items. Some big, some small, some expensive, some cheap, some important, some meaningless. And I’m proud of how level-headed and realistic I’ve remained. The attraction of a slower home and a simpler life have been strong enough to keep me focused. To see the bigger picture.
And then two cheap Made in Taiwan ceramic figurines, a tacky piece of the Berlin wall and some empty cardboard boxes turned me to tears.
Because sometimes, things are more than things, aren’t they? At least that’s how we feel.
The cheap figurines? Hand-me-downs from my grandmother, to remind me of her when she’s gone.
That tacky piece of the Berlin Wall? A gift from my Dad when he was on a business trip, to let me know he was thinking of me.
The hundreds of empty jewellery boxes? They are dreams and hopes for my self-founded business. They are also the failures that saw me close the business down.
And we hold on to them.
But in this quest for a simpler, slower life, we need to realise that things are just things. They may remind us of the grandmother once she has passed away, or the love of our father, or the dreams we once had.
But the knick-knacks? They are not my grandmother’s memory.
The Berlin Wall encased in perspex? Not my Dad’s love.
Those empty jewellery boxes? Not my ambition, my intelligence or my dreams.
They are just things. And not even beautiful or useful things. They are things that are a weight on me. Because I don’t love them. I will never use them. But I feel that I have to keep them because someone I love gave them to me. Or because I invested so much time, energy and money into them and what they represent.
So they weigh heavily.
But do you know what I discovered when I finally let go? When I eventually tossed 251 jewellery boxes in the recycling bin?
We can be light instead. We can feel free. Free from useless clutter. Free from failures. Free from whatever we’re holding on to.
Believe me, I understand this is infinitely harder to act on than it is to write.
Confession: I still have the ceramic figures and the Berlin Wall. Which is OK.
But it’s OK because I’ve gone through the process. I truly understand they are not the love, the memory, the realness of the people who gave them to me.
And for you to know what is OK to keep, you need to go through the process too. So tomorrow I will give you three questions to ask yourself when decluttering sentimental items.
But in the meantime, answer this question, “If I was completely free, what would I let go of?”