THE POWER OF STUFF: WHO OWNS WHO?
Very recently, I cleared out a storage unit that I had for two years. When I first got the storage unit, it seemed like the only thing to do: I was breaking up with a boyfriend and moving into a (very small) house of my own. All my stuff couldn’t fit in my new place, but they were such important things. The things I stored meant something to me. They told me who I was, who I might be one day. In the boxes and bins I carefully wrapped and packed my visions for a different life – nice linens, crystal glasses, giant sheepskin rugs, extra bedding for the guest rooms that surely one day I would have. I also packed two giant bins of clothing that I would absolutely need one day (ha!). My intention was to have the storage unit for three months. I prepaid for those months with an endpoint in mind.
However, time moved on, and my life adjusted easily to less space and less stuff. The storage unit stayed, costing me just enough each month to justify it. Where I live, storage is cheap, and the unit is walking distance from my house. Eventually, a year passed. And then another year passed. In my meditations and prayers, it started to become apparent that the storage unit had to go. I mean, it really really had to go. It was binding me in ways I didn’t want or need to be bound. Freeing myself from that stuff would free me up in unimaginable ways. I knew it would. I had to clear it out.
The problem was that every time I went in to the storage unit, I’d freeze up. After two years, it was kind of a mess and I never knew where to start. What’s more, I needed a bigger vehicle to move some of the things. Basically, I needed help. Getting rid of your stuff is overwhelming, and it shouldn’t be done alone if it feels even the least bit difficult. Calling in a helper who is not attached to your material shit is helpful beyond belief. Allow yourself to ask for help. Even if a friend just comes and talks to you while you clean, it will be better.
It took me a really long time to finally ask for help. More months rolled by and I stared in helplessness at my stuff that had once represented home and comfort and now was simply my burden, attachment, resistance to change. It was heavy and sticky. It also made me tired.
At last, I asked for help and it was delivered (thank you, handsome boyfriend). With his help, his truck, and his not-giving-a-shit about my shit, I was able to clear out my unit and put in my official notice. I followed up this process with a yard sale where I sold nearly every single thing that I’d stored in there. What an interesting ending to hoarding a collection for so long! Clearing out that space and selling my stuff was one of the best feelings I’ve had all summer. I finally listened to that intuitive voice that had been telling me for a LONG time to let that stuff go. I know that new things will unfold (it’s already starting), now liberated from that muddy burden of attachment that I had built.
I generally consider myself pretty good at getting rid of stuff. Usually things come and things go for me. But this time, I had some things to learn. The easiest way we get strapped down by physical belongings is by a sense of duty to our ancestors (or future children/grandchildren) or by some kind of nostalgia (but he gave me that, etc). I recently read in a book about some pioneers in the early 1900s who traveled from Colorado to Texas with a pipe organ in their wagon because it was a family heirloom. Can you imagine how insanely heavy that was? How much freer they would have been without it?
These are the toughest cords to cut. But you know what? Once you do it, everything will be okay. And you’ll catch your breath and look around and think, “Whoa. I’m still me. I still love my ancestors and they still love me. I am still carving out a beautiful future. I am still valuable.” And then you will laugh with a new lightness of being, and you will feel inspired to make things, create things, bring new things into your world. You will learn something you didn’t know before. You will become more yourself, because instead of defining yourself by the things you own, you will define yourself by your warm skin, your craving for melons at midnight, the dreams you resurrect from old journals. In poetry, we create masterpieces by 'cutting away the fat' – trimming and trimming until only beautiful, luminous bones remain. Like poetry, as you let go of the material things that you think define you, your essence will rise up, sharp and clear like a deep winter night.
All the love,