by: Joelle Charbonneau
In the midst of writing, running after a 5 year-old and attempting to beat back this strange, unending strain of pneumonia I managed to contract, I a'm also moving to a new house. The timing is not ideal, but hey—when is moving ever the ideal thing to do. The house, however, is wonderful. We’ll have a big back yard and I’ll have an office with a door! Yeah, I’m pretty excited about that.
The thing I love about moving is that this is a perfect opportunity to purge from my life all sorts of things that have just been hanging around taking up space in my house. Clothes I haven’t worn in years…old computers that once upon a time we thought we’d have refurbished…6 Christmas cookie jars that have never once been taken out of the box. (3 snowmen, 2 Santas and a Holiday Teddy Bear…um…I like to bake, but not that much! And does anyone actually put cookies in cookie jars anymore?)
While packing, I ask the question – do I want to move this? If the answer is no—off to Goodwill it goes. Hurrah! Boxes and boxes of stuff that has been taking up space are now gone. Off to grace or take up space in someone else’s life.
It’s so easy to hang onto things that we don’t need, but after a while those things really do take up more than physical space. Just seeing clutter or knowing there are lots of things you not only do not need, but do not want in your house can start to wear on your soul. Because you have to dust it or because you wish you didn’t have it but haven’t found a good reason to get rid of it. Or you feel you can’t because a family member gave it to you and you don’t want to hurt his or her feelings. But moving is the perfect opportunity to get rid of just about anything.
And the thing is—the more stuff I get rid off, the better I feel. I love knowing I have less. Less clothing. Less books (gasp!). Less stuff that I know I don’t need taking up mental space in my life.
So despite the energy and time it takes to pack up our lives and move down the street (well, not quite down the street, but not really all that far from where we are now) I am filled with great joy. Because with every object or article of clothing I remove from our lives, I feel lighter. Less encumbered. Delighted to lose some of the baggage that I didn’t realize was weighing me down.
So, for all of you feeling a little blah or a little weighed down by life – I challenge you to go through your house and pack a box of stuff that you don’t need. Things you haven’t used in years, but for some reason or another haven’t removed from your space. Pack it up. Give it away and while doing so give away some of the weight that you feel hanging on you. I bet you anything you’ll feel better when you’re done.
***And if you’re like me and have lots of books that you’ve read and are ready to pass to a new home—consider donating those books to your local library. Even if they don’t end up on their shelves, most libraries have used book sales that allow them to fund special programs or buy new books.***
When I was a teen I read Sherlock Holmes's famous line about the mind having only so much storage space. That stayed with me, though I have rarely followed the advice. You're right, letting go is liberating. If we hold on to that last sentence, how will we ever write the next one?
The process of clearing the clutter is also, as you say, a process of prioritizing, of emphasis. It happens at moments of transition or crisis or change. Sort of like the flow of the plot - which was your point, wasn't it?
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