Monday, February 22, 2010
Generally I'm someone who does form emotional attachments to "stuff", so I can speak with conviction on this subject. Or at least I always have been that type of person.
However, I've caught a glimpse of another side of me - a not-so-emotionally-attached side - lately. Since I've decided to move overseas in the fall I will have to get rid of, well, pretty much all my belongings. I mean I don't HAVE to get rid of everything; I could, of course, just move it all into storage to await my return, but I just feel at this stage that that is silly (not to mention expensive).
I'm actually kind of excited, about ridding myself of my belongings* I'm not sure why this is and it surprises me because it's so against my nature, though I suspect it has to do with my general mindset about life right now, which is derived from the spirit of my going overseas. It's about change, stepping outside my comfort zone, being free from unnecessary burdens (of the physical and emotional kind) and making a kind of "new start". I sort of look at this experience as a "shedding of skin" - I'm hoping to either reveal another person beneath that skin, or try on a new one after shedding the old.
So, given this mindset, I wish to get rid of as much as possible before I leave. Not because I don't like my stuff and want all new things, but because I don't want to feel "tethered" by a storage unit full of it. Moreover, I don't want to fork over $100 a month to keep an apartment's full of things, when I have no idea when or where I'm going to be in another permanent apartment again. Even if I come back to Canada after being away one year, my guess is I will end up in Vancouver or somewhere in the vicinity, in which case I'd have to pay to move it across the country and I don't even want to THINK about how much that would cost. I'm sure it would mean less money and stress in the long run to just buy all new stuff.
Plus, I think we sometimes overestimate the emotional attachment we have to our "things". If given an ultimatum, most of us could live happily with very little. Sometimes you really need to think about what an item means to you and what connections you feel to it and why before you decide to get rid of it or not. You have to be careful that your devotion is not misplaced.
There is a great quote in today's Worn blog about this (this quote is referring to clothing, but it could be generalized to include all belongings and so I've modified it slightly here): "Part of the notion of revaluing involves 'excavating an emotional connection to (stuff),' finding that personal link between yourself and the (stuff), whether through a family heirloom or something tied to a significant memory, whatever it is that makes you want to keep and cherish (the stuff)."
My mom and I were discussing my purging last night and she made me feel guilty (that is part of her duty as "mom" after all). 90% of my furniture are hand-me-downs from her, as she was quick to remind me, and she isn't entirely happy with me getting rid of them. This gave me a bit of pause and I did feel bad for a moment about getting rid of everything. And I'm sure when the time comes for my things to go; when they are actually making their way out the door and I'm left standing in an empty apartment (except for a few suitcases and rubbermaid containers) I will feel even more bad. I'm sure in a way I will feel lost, possibly like a medium-sized hole has appeared in my life. But I'm also sure that this won't last. I'm confident that the biggest thing I'll be feeling is freedom.
Don't misunderstand - I'm not advocating for anyone to purge all their stuff and not keep anything; quite the opposite. I'm a huge advocate for keeping things that have special meaning to you and that have special memories. I'm a big clutterbug by nature and love having rooms of things of my own to come home to. I look forward to the day when I put roots down again somewhere else and can begin accumulating things again. It will be comforting.
I'm just not in a "stuff" place right now, that's all. And regardless of life stage, couches and utensils and microwaves and dishes are always replaceable. Memories, adventures, photos, keepsakes and heirlooms are not, therefore those are the things you should keep and attach emotion to. Think about it - if a fire broke out in your home, what would you grab? I'm guessing your toaster would be the last thing on your mind.
*I'm referring, of course, to things like my furniture and appliances, mind, i.e. things that can be easily replaced. Keepsakes, such as artwork, souveniers, decorative thingys, etc, cannot be easily replaced and therefore will not be gotten rid of. At the same time though, I plan on keeping as little as I can so some ruthlessness will still be required on my part as I'm sure there will be things I will want in my heart to keep, but which would be (in practical terms) silly to hang onto.