“One of the best, unforeseen consequence[s] of simplifying our lives [was] it allowed us to begin living in the present. Eliminating nonessential possessions freed us from many of the emotions associated with former lives that were keeping us stuck. Clearing our home has [also] allowed us the freedom to shape our lives around today and our most important values.“ ~ Joshua Becker
About six years ago, I moved from the house I had lived in for close to two decades into a tiny little cottage on the other side of town.
My then-husband and I were going our separate ways, and he took the furnishings and belongings he wanted, and I took what I wanted. We also had two yard sales, and when all was said and done there was still enough for the Estate Store to come and pick up more stuff to sell.
That house had lots of storage—and I had filled it all.
But with what?
Lots of “just in case” stuff is what. Stuff like enough dishes to serve 30 people at one time “just in case I ever needed to serve 30 people at one time.” Or, enough sheets, blankets, towels and terry cloth bathrobes “just in case my entire family—including my daughters, their husbands and their children, my brother and sisters and my nieces, nephews and everybody’s girlfriend or boyfriend—came over to spend the night at one time,” which of course, they never did.
I had to have all that stuff—and more—“just in case.”
When I moved from 2,000 square feet to 600 square feet, I had to let go of—well, I had to let go of living “just in case.” In other words, I had to let go of living in the future.
I had to let go of living in the past, too.
I simply did not have room in my tiny new cottage for all three of my then-40-something-year-old daughters’ grade school artwork, 18 years of Christmas cards and letters, my own five-foot stack of personal journals, the first pair of Birkenstocks I bought in 1973 (still in the original box) and every book I’d ever read.
Bottom line: that move involved a lot more than just moving stuff.
Until I had to cull out from my possessions the small amount that would fit into the cottage I was moving into, I’d had no idea just how much all those things were actually keeping me from living in the moment.
When I ultimately came to the conclusion that, “If I don’t have room for it I don’t need it,” I felt liberated—not only from carrying around so much stuff all my life, but also from carrying around the past and the future.
The experience was cleansing to say the least, and a whole new set of priorities revealed themselves to me, the main one being that all that stuff was just that—stuff.
Eventually, I met a new man, married him, and four years ago moved into his townhouse.
Last week, we learned we would be moving again, to another state.
This time, I don’t see moving as merely a chore to be accomplished with lots of planning to be done. This time, I see it as life giving me yet another opportunity to practice staying in the moment and getting rid of more stuff.
I can’t wait to start packing—and taking with us nothing more than what fits into the back of our Subaru!
Author: Carmelene Siani
Image: Hillary Boles/Flickr
Editor: Toby Israel