Thursday, January 04, 2007

Letting Go, Moving On

I've already told you I'd never before lived in one house for more than 2 3/4 years until we moved into this house 13 years ago, and well, now I've become acquainted with all the trappings of burrowing into one place for so long.

Namely, when you're not moving every three years, or so, the temptation becomes to tuck away into odd places those papers, trinkets and well, junk, you'd have otherwise never have loaded into the moving van.

No, too often I've gazed thoughtfully at certain items... gifts, gadgets, files... and thought, "Well, since there's room in this house to put these things, since they have a place, I'll keep them... just in case... just because. But they'll be the first things to go when we finally move away some far-off, I'll-think-about-it-later day.

Trust me, I know now what that's like. But to be fair to myself, every four or five years I've dived into drawers and cupboards and slung away stuff, mainly paper clutter and those vague no-longer-beautiful-or-useful trinkets.

Maybe I've tried decluttering our house every few years because I reread Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book, Gift From The Sea, every few years. How can you not declutter your house when you read lines like these?

"To ask how little, not how much, can I get along with. To say--is it necessary--when I am tempted to add one more accumulation to my life, when I am pulled toward one more centrifugal activity."

Ah... that part about asking how little, not how much, can I get along with... How freeing when I allow those words to haunt me, to guide me. But oh, how often I fight them... and pay a price. After all, I never just simply buy something. No, with each purchase I acquire something else to care for, clean, move around, and something which also takes up more space, and generally, more of my time for, well, something meaningful.

So, while Tom is seriously considering taking that job in Virginia, I find myself seriously, already, saying good-bye to this almost magical life we have lived here inside this house. And always--always--good-byes of any type require letting go of some of what you've known so to make room for new things for your new phase, your new life. (Sometimes we don't get a new life because we never made room for one.)

How to let go? Like many of you, I find it hard to get rid of gifts, especially ones from relatives, but there is a solution I've heard of... I can take pictures of those gifts and place them into a photo album marked, "Special Gifts From Special People," (perhaps silencing any hurt feelings from sensitive relatives should they notice the absence of their gifts in your rooms). And too, I enjoy picturing the happy faces of people who find, in thrift shops, the items I once treasured, and how those folks might drive away--exhilarated--because they 'stole' such a low-priced treasure.

And I can take pictures of the large wardrobe closet we cannot take with us, and other large furniture or knick-knacks... and then look at them on a future rainy day, far away, and remember.

I can give away some things I even still love to those friends and relatives I love even more... I can keep foremost in my mind how good it feels to keep a flow of giving... and how peaceful it feels to live simply.

And (cutting this short because I could ramble on all day with this pep talk), I can also do all this decluttering for our daughter's sake. I want so much to spare her from the nightmare I've seen other adult children trapped in--the nightmare of having to wade through room after cluttered, dusty room of junk which their parents should have weeded through, themselves, decades before. I have heard the exhaustion in the voices of those adult children, and the frustration, and oh my... I do not want that for my daughter. I do not want to add to her sad feelings of our passing, an even sadder feeling that we left such a horrible mess for her while we're in Heaven enjoying Peace and a simplicity we should have cultivated here upon Earth.

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