Letting go

Preparing for an international move is quite a process. For much of my life before I got married I was a student, and moved to a different temporary residence every few years. I was used to living out of a suitcase and discarding or storing whatever didn’t fit into a single room. But since setting up house and having a child, the paraphernalia that goes with family life has complicated everything tremendously.

It makes me realize how much has changed in just the six years since our last move. My son was six when we came to New Hampshire, still playing with toy trucks and stuffed animals. Now it’s a question of transporting his unicycle, his fountain pens and art pencils, and his collection of rocks and minerals (and maybe some of the stuffed animals.)

Right now I’m going through papers and documents, and it’s like excavating ancient history. Even though I did one phase of this already when I got into the KonMari method — at that time I shredded twenty-five pounds of paper! — there’s still so much that I haven’t even touched in six years. A partial list:

  • Negatives from our wedding photos — the last days before digital!
  • A whole file box of material from when I briefly taught eurythmy in a school
  • Wrapping paper, gift bags and boxes from previous birthdays and Christmases waiting to be reused

Looking at these, I realize that they all fall into the category of “I might need this someday.” I might want to reprint these photos … I might teach eurythmy again … I might need to wrap a gift …

Okay, the gift wrap did come in handy at times, but the rest have just been gathering dust for about fifteen years. And I’m so happy to finally let them go. “Someday” is never going to come — or if it does, I will deal with it in that moment. Meanwhile, I have more energy and motivation to focus on my present needs.

The future is a real space that we can stuff full with expectations and assumptions, or leave open to reveal itself in its own time. I wonder what will come into my hands, once I’ve let so many things go?

A Trompe l’oeil of Newspapers, Letters and Writing Implements on a Wooden Board – Edwaert Collier, ca. 1699

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0 thoughts on “Letting go

  1. This process is, by stages, depressing, liberating, exhausting and invigorating.

    Sometimes a clean sweep seems like a good way forward, other times—when I have delusions of grandeur (“when I’m famous…”) or anxieties about passing on remembrances to offspring—I wonder if there’s some archive of social history I can donate the lot to. But then reality reassert itself!

    I do hope all this sorting out sorts itself out, Lory: it’s a big move relocating not just to a new home but to a different country and culture, I know, and must seem a bit like reinventing who you are. Bonne chance, buona fortuna!

    1. I’ve gone through this several times, and while there are a few things I regret not keeping, mostly I just forget about all the things I no longer possess. My wish now is to accumulate less, or be more conscious about it … we’ll see how that goes!

  2. I shudder to think of the amount of work it would take to move us after 19 slightly cluttery years, but I’m sure it would be a salutary exercise! However (and slightly sadly for me), the chances of us moving to another country are less than nil. My husband would like nothing better than to live in this house for the rest of our days — he moved so much as a kid that he never wants to do it again. Luckily we live in the very best place in California and we have good roots here.

    Best of luck with all this work, Lory! I think in the end it will be good to have a clean sweep.

    1. It is good to live deeply into one place, but that has never been my lot in life. I find that moving is always a good opportunity to clear out what has accumulated in the meantime and re-set my intentions. Of course this can also be done while staying put, but I’m not sure I would without the practical necessity.

  3. I have moved across the country several times in my life, but it was just me and my cats (which was really stressful). But moving to another country seems way more difficult emotionally, which might be why holding on to mundane things is harder to let go of?

    Still, buying wrapping paper in Switzerland will be a fun treat…sure it’s just wrapping paper, but it’s from Switzerland! I wish you all the best as you sort through and let go of this life and into the next. I guess the Marie Kondo work has come full circle?!!

    1. I’m actually glad for this push to let go of mundane things that otherwise I would be tempted to hang on to! Time for a fresh start. I hope I can keep my life more joyful and less cluttered in future, acquiring and using things more consciously.

  4. I have use the mantra “would I want to move this” in deciding what to keep around the house. But that is always based on a state-side move. It would be a whole ‘nother set of guidelines if I had to move things internationally! Thank you for letting us have a glimpse into your process!

    1. At the moment, when I ask myself “would I want to move this” the answer is usually “No.” I may end up with a very empty house, at least till the urge to accumulate sets in again.

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