It's funny, a few months ago I had a whole house of stuff that was of such importance that I carted it around for decades from home to home, I cleaned it, organized it, stored it, brought it out, and put it away again. I dedicated over a thousand square feet of prime real estate to my stuff, effectively making the cost of stuff storage over a thousand dollars a month. I have loved my stuff. I've kept it warm, dry, and clean. I've protected it and lovingly caressed its surfaces. I've nurtured my stuff.
Today I watched a box of stuff that I once declared I would like buried with my body once I die walk out in the arms of a stranger. I tried really, really hard to care. But I couldn't. I was glad it was leaving. My love affair with my stuff is officially over.
This is a mature point for me, the end of a long, rough journey I've taken cleaning out the house. While we are not quite done, enough has found itself new homes that I'm beginning to feel a bit of a veteran. The first bit was quite hard - crying jags over boxes of random items that just happened to have been abandoned in the basement about the same time that our first child was born. How I could develop an attachment to something that I had previously discarded just because I ditched it at an important time in my life is seriously convoluted, yet there I was. And then I went through the real mementos, many of which needed to go away, no matter how much they mean to me. Going through them it became easier to answer some essential questions: Do I need this now or ever again? Will the person/event I cherish be diminished/damaged/hurt by the passing along of this memento? What's really important here? Does my memory suddenly cease to work without this particular memento?
I've gotten better at keeping it all in perspective, especially with gifts given to me and the children. Gifts are not given in with the expectation that they will hence forth be forever strapped to your person and household and hauled around like a ball and chain. Gifts are about love and that's what we are supposed to carry.
A few days ago I became hardened (or exhilarated with the impending liberation) to the point where I became almost predatory, roaming around my house, spying out stuff that I could get rid of. This is the point where The Man started questioning my decision making but I make no apologises. My point: Can we live without it? Can we make do? Do I need to remind anyone that Birdie Boy flushed our bath plug away more than a month ago and, yet, since baths have been taken almost daily (with bath cloths doing double duty). Yes, it's useful, yes, we use it. But do we need to?
We still have a long way to go. Not just with the house, though we are on the last leg of the decluttering, but with the mental cage we live in when it comes to stuff. I am programmed to buy and acquire. I could say that a little less dramatically, but the truth is that buying, collecting, having, and hoarding are something I instinctively, or if not biologically programmed, then as a knee jerk response to almost any event imaginable. Need something to do? Get some stuff. Got an important event coming up? Get some stuff. Expecting a baby? Get some stuff (actually, a lot of stuff.)
The task now - the harder one I would argue - is to learn how to not acquire more stuff. I know that as we travel more and more makes its way into our lives and living space. And I tend to believe that once stuff makes its way in the door then it becomes like another child to me, a part of me, that needs to find a home within our home, and protected from the cruel world that seeks to seperate us. Don't laugh. I still have a stick - a stick! - that The Man gave to me on the night we met eleven years ago (minus one week).
Letting go and getting comfortable without my stuff armour. That is my challenge now.