Everyone collects something, but not everything we keep is worth keeping.
The ability to take an honest inventory of that which no longer serves us is healthy, and there's something about purging (the “out with the old” part of “in with the new”) that does good things for the soul.
People come in all shapes and sizes, from hoarders to minimalists and everything in between. Although I lean more and more toward minimalism every day, I think I have tendencies on both sides of the spectrum.
I also happen to love a good purge.
People pick and choose the things they find valuable and interesting in life – baseball cards, rare coins, motorcycles or jewelry.
Some are passionate about travel and live simply in order to collect experiences instead.
Some people seem to collect damaged relationships and wistful memories.
Some of us just collect dust.
The human experience is broad and allows for all sorts of collections. But all of those collections have one thing in common: every one of them tells a story. It may not become a made for TV movie, but our story is being told by the people, and even the things, with which we surround ourselves.
So what does your “stuff” say about you?
I seem to go through a regular cycle of acquiring and purging. At first the purging happened as a matter of necessity. Four kids and lots of moves forces you to pare down your ideas of “necessary” and “valuable”.
I remember one move in particular making all four kids (they were teenagers by this time) go through all the boxes of memories we'd saved from their childhood. They got to save whatever they deemed important as long as it fit into two large plastic bins. That's what we were willing to store for each of them. Two a piece. It was hard for them at first, but as they picked up each item and looked through it and relived the memory of the sports trophy or the musical tickets or the drawings or stuffed animals, we talked and laughed about all the good memories.
Then I told them these bins would be theirs to keep as soon as they had a house and a life of their own, so what were the things they wanted to show their own kids some day? Which items reminded them of where they'd been … or who they'd become?
It turned out that while they were fond of a lot of those memories, the thought of having to lug more than two bins through the rest of their lives wasn't really all that attractive after all. “Most of this is just stuff” one of them said to me. “It doesn't really matter. We can get rid of it.”
The memories weren't contained inside the items. The memories were inside their hearts.
In a similar spirit, last week on my days off I took every single item out my closet and all my drawers. I sorted, tossed, donated, and when I put it all back, I ended up with a lot more closet space and an entire empty drawer!
A regular purge is like a good colon cleanse – afterwords you just feel so light and agile. In fact, every time I buy a new item of clothing I try to get rid of one I no longer wear.
It keeps the numbers down in the herd. You know, natural selection and all 😉
It's really pretty freeing, getting rid of the things in your life that no longer “fit” or make you feel good about yourself. Clothing, hats, dishes, artwork, even pieces of furniture can be hold-outs from another time, weighing us down in the present.
I prefer to hoard people and experiences.
Traveling and meeting new people far outweighs spending all my time cleaning, organizing and cataloguing the ‘things' in my life.
Letting go of what's no longer necessary is like dropping the sandbags off a hot air balloon.
It allows you to go higher, get a better view, and maybe even gain some perspective on your life.
For me, it lightens my load so that my spirit is free to seek out new experiences, to write, to create, and to engage more fully in this one trip I get around the sun ☀️
Hold onto that which moves you forward.
Get rid of things that hold you back.
And hold tightly to those you love.
Happy Spring!! 🌱🌷