We become so attached. We assign meaning to things and then we hold on to those things with everything we have. And these things feel like something to us, something that's really a thing to us, because we gave it that meaning. It becomes essential to us. Then we assign more meaning to more things and soon our closets and our shelves and our drawers and our cabinets and even the walls are filled with so many things. They are all important and they are all essential. And they feel heavy but we can never let go.
Or can we?
Today I had a conversation out in the middle of thousands of garlic plants with my brother about just this thing. We talked about releasing things, letting go of the stuff that has accumulated in our lives, in our homes, over the decades. That's right, decades.
When my husband and I recently moved back to Southern California, we made an intention of letting go of the clutter in our lives. Moving is a great chance to do this, and it felt so good. We filled up box after box of the things we thought we needed but truly did not. We challenged ourselves to reconsider packing up those items that we assigned some sort of sentimental value to. Instead, many of them made it into the donation box. And it felt amazing. We felt lighter. Life felt clean and there was a release.
So I talked to my brother about this. He asked me what he should do with all of the tools he has, many that are good but he doesn't necessarily need. The piles of tools. The piles. Let them go. Donate them. Thank them for their time and let them become someone else's treasure. Put them in the donate box and don't think twice.
He asked me what to do with brochures from meaningful events, the pieces of paper he has collected to remind himself of something special. You have the memory. Take a picture if you must. Then put it directly in the recycling bin. Let it travel on to the recycling plant to become something new that someone can use.
And what about those items, the ones from people who have passed away? The broken religious statue, the programs you get at funerals, the little token you don't really like but have imbued with sentiment because it once belonged to that someone, what about those things? Let them go. If having them in your life does not bring you joy or fulfill some sort of practical use, release them. They are not that person. Cherish memories and the people in your lives, not the things.
Things get heavy. Things pile up and fill the white space with darkness. Things create shadows and dust and heaviness. Welcome in. Welcome in light. Welcome in release and space. Be comfortable in that space and enjoy the emptiness.
And welcome out. Welcome out the things that served a purpose once but do not anymore. Welcome out the things that brought you joy at one point, but don't actively do that anymore. Hold onto memories, but not things. Fill up your life with experiences, but not tokens reminding you of past experiences. Embrace the people in your life, but not the stuff. If you have to stop and question, let it go. Donate. Pass on. Recycle. Just release, somehow.
It's really not about things. It's not. Your home will feel better with less. You will breathe deeper with less. You will move lighter with less. So welcome in and welcome out.