Ok out there, who has too much stuff, so much you just can’t even face opening the cupboards? It’s normal to put things at the back of the any the wardrobe or cupboard or our mind for that matter and it is going to take a lot of effort whatever the size of the project be it material or other to clear it.
It’s almost five years ago now that I decided to down size my whole life, sell my home and move my family into a smaller place. It wasn’t just the stuff of family life and 17 years in one spacious house that was going to have to be edited but like many others I have things from my whole life so far that I want to keep let alone all the things from my children’s life. Our history is important and memories are the stories and rituals often re-connected through an object of association. What to keep?
I carry within me an inner Buddhist, I find it easy to let go and move on. Although I like to have nice things and love to create a beautiful home which reflects my sense of style and desire for both harmony and balance in my life. I am though not attached to the material, I enjoy it but can leave it all behind. I tend to be happy anywhere.
I am not a hoarder but I do collect. It’s a life practice on harmony, what gives me pleasure isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but that is of course OK.
When I moved into my apartment I shoved what I didn’t need to unpack into the space that had once been a wardrobe. Over the following three years I squeezed more into it, work projects, fabric and clothing. After living through a total refurb of the apartment and delaying the kitchen refurb, all of which had to also be lived through it has taken me a while to find the energy to tackle this last project.
In here squished between work that I must keep is a selection of memory boxes kept from our previous home. These memories are items of baby clothes, clothes from my teen years, my small vinyl collection from the 1970’s and 80’s, family photos and bits of ceramics made by my kids, oh and my first mac computer which I still love. There will also be in here five years of tax returns which I can now shred 3 years of.
A LOAD OFF – trip to the tip.
First stop was to drop off a table, yes a table had been in my wardrobe. Re-homed at my friends newly rented place that she only found out that it was unfurnished when the previous tenant took the furniture. Also a large mirror, stored under my bed post my house move and a friends original sex pistols poster which I had housed for the past 10 years or so. It’s not just our own stuff that we hold on to.
The car is refilled with the remains of the soon to be replaced wardrobe interior and my first cull. Time to let go of my art school history. I can’t even bring myself to open the dusty portfolios knowing that my kids art work is much better and of course present, current and fresh. I have dragged this stuff around too long. Then there was a box of old yoga books, stored for three years but smelling like 10. They say if you haven’t worn it or looked at it for over a year……So as I dump even more of my past and happily let it go and I feel lighter, this stuff is what I felt defined me. My study of yoga and my love of having being a student at art college. There is almost a desire to say, ‘time to start again” but I have eradicated the word again from my vocabulary because again means repeat. The Wikipedia page says, to return to a previous position or condition. Neither are relevant and therefore I chose only to start.
THE FINAL EDIT
Now for a final edit and the joy of selecting what I want and need to keep. I love this process of chaos to order and the effort in the middle. The bit in the middle is all about finding the treasure of memories, a connection to the past and its place in the present.
This isn’t just a clear out and a cull of a build up of clutter, whats left is actually what I have kept my whole life. Three years ago I down sized from a large family house with lots of space for storage. That was a major clear out, seventeen years worth of stuff. Now I am arranging whats left into a series of shelves. I have a few boxes of the kids primary school work and baby clothes. I have a few boxes of photographs but it looks like I have to get rid of two cases of clothes from my punk and new romantic era. This bit will be hard. The final edit of my life lived so far.
These shelves are now housing my current life, design projects and of course clothes and accessories. Memories are held in small boxes and a small collection of vinyl. I intend to up and travel and am getting ready to fly the nest. My kids might end up returning to live here whilst I am gone on adventures or that I rent my place out for others to enjoy.
Looking at what I have left it’s not much to show for a life but I don’t believe life is about holding on, it’s the reverse, letting go is where it’s at. I have to admit though this last bit feels nervous. It’s that feeling of being on the edge of change. But the over all feeling is so light and tinged with excitement that its worth it.
Whilst sifting though photo albums I found lovely pictures of my ex husband and some of the two of us pre kids. To be honest I knew those pictures were there but I hadn’t been able to look at them before now. I found a beautiful photo him when we were in India just before we got married. I found family photos, and a portrait of my mother and me as a little girl.
Its been physically exhausting (yoga and dog walks have had to be missed) and challenging my emotions. a literal tipping point of letting go. At the tip I saw two men picking over my life just dumped with a long stick, that felt sad.
When I got back the caretaker told me there is storage available on site! Theres a lesson.