When I was a little girl my Mom kept things very neat and tidy. She would ‘clean’ my room from time to time, with my help, and oddly enough the things I didn’t play with anymore, wear, or use, would just disappear. I usually didn’t miss the stuff at all. It was when I was older that I had the heart wrenching realization that the stuff that I didn’t notice was being bagged up and donated to people who could use these items. I got used to the idea and it seemed okay, but from time to time when I would outgrow items I loved it would be very hard to let go. I remember quite distinctly my little yellow scooter being given away. I had outgrown the thing really, but the amount of mini adventures I had had on it, the fun I remembered, really tugged at my heart. But I was too old and too tall to use it and not look completely ridiculous. So the to, went to someone, a little child, who would get just as much joy out of it that I had had with it.
As I grew up I learned to give things up I was no longer using and to move forward in life with the things I did cherish and love. I loved all my things and would acquire more, but for more specific reasons. Never being a shop-a-holic I couldn’t imagine having too much stuff, but I had a nice closet full of close, and anything I think I ‘needed.’ The line between want/ need was non existent and I just didn’t think about it.
As a grown up I went through a lot of family loss. My Mom died from cancer when I was twenty-six. I suddenly was clinging to all my Mom’s possessions like they were the last bit of her, savoring every memory of her wearing a sweater, or a shoe that wasn’t my size. Because they were hers! The idea of getting rid of anything of hers was absolutely never going to happen. I had to cling to what she used because she was gone. My Mom, the one person that it still pains me in memory every waking day. My Dad tried to pack things up, but I wouldn’t allow him to throw anything away at first. And was jealous and a little angry when he took her watercolors. Yes, he was an artist and would use them far more then I would, but they were HERS!
Then I went through the rational that I would do something with all of her things.. I would make pillows out of her sweaters, or quilts, or something. I would wear everything else I could to be closer to her on some level. So then I moved away from my home town, and somewhere along the line my Dad gave me an ultimatum. That all of her things that I wanted to keep had to go with me. Not a problem! I rented a moving truck and moved it all, sticking all of her things, all of my things and all of my roommates things in a small two bedroom apartments in various states as we traveled nomadically. But I was carrying my burden with me, but at the time I didn’t recognize this at all.
We finally settled for a time in New Mexico and rented out a storage locker for what we couldn’t fit in the rental we had. By now everything was in boxes and I was always planning on going through these things, someday.
Then both sets of Grandparents died and I acquired furniture from the house in California and a lot of stuff from the house in New Orleans. Again, I would see these things and happy memories would flood my brain.. I would think ‘this vase was in the room when we had Christmas dinner.’ This knick knack always sat there and I would see it when I visited. So all these things had to be kept.. forever! To rid myself of these tactile memories was a must.
I have gone through some healing and some growth since then.. In the recent years I slowly did go through those boxes, but still had to drag 90% of it with me. The townhouse garage was filled 100% with these things. And occasionally I would go through a box. Time had taken away a lot of the pain and it wasn’t so difficult to toss things. Then suddenly tiny houses were coming into the spot light. We would watch Tiny House Nation for hours, reveling in these people giving everything up and moving into tiny 300 ft or less homes and living without debt or other mundane problems. That sounded absolutely wonderful, and the technical innovations of these lovely spaces made me dream of a life where I could do that. But when would that ever happen? I had an entire garage and a townhouse of things that I couldn’t possibly get rid of. I had to be the keeper of the memories! I continued with my slow progress, but was able to speed up a little bit, with the hopes of a different future.
Then I found the documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. This film changed my perception of things vs. memories. They suggested taking photos of the stuff and letting go whatever did not serve you. To live simply and to experience things instead of buying stuff. I was hooked! I started listening to the podcast that the minimalist put out and really feeling different about ‘things.’
Since this epiphany I have spent this summer getting rid of so much stuff! The Donations I made were truck loads, and we had an intensely satisfying garage sale a few weekends ago where a lot of stuff was taken. I would feel this surge in my gut when I would see something be taken away by a stranger; a wonderful warm healing feeling that this was the best thing to do, and it couldn’t get any better. What we didn’t sell we donated. We are now able to open the garage door all the way to let in light and air, and my roommate is also minimizing.. something I didn’t force her to do, or expect her to want to do.. but she is feeling good about it to. Its amazing how cleansing it is to let go of things. I only have a few boxes to go through now, and then two trunks full of stuff.. but I am feeling as if I have just climbed a mountain and healed a lot from grief, and loss, and the fears I had. And the memories? They are still there, in my heart and in my head, forever more.
I am going through my stuff in the house that I use daily, and pairing that even further down now to. If I don’t use it in 90 days, do I really need it? I want to live within my means, no longer burdened with things, and everything having a purpose. The experiences of life is what I want my baggage to be..
The next step…. I started looking at local companies that build tiny houses.. Then what? Get off the hamster wheel of paychecks and debt, save up some more green, and do what my passions are? Travel? Make films? Who knows.. at this point the sky is the limit; and this winter I may be able to park my car in the garage.
Written by: Sophia Bungay @ August 2017 wickedlydrivenmedia.com