How to let go of your treasures

In Happy Hats, Searching for simplicity on October 3, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Sad Icelandic sculpture

My husband and I are in the process of downsizing, of  going from a 2200 square feet house to a 1000 square feet apartment.  There are many reasons we are doing this, you can read about the main ones in Why Downsizing Makes Sense.

One of the challenges of this process is to reduce our possessions to fit in the new space.  This means letting go of things accumulated.  We bought some to fill in spaces.  We got some as gifts or impulse buys and put them in corners of bookshelves and plastic boxes in the closets because we didn’t know what to do with them.  We accumulated some others because we had hopes we would use them again sometime.

It is of the last kind this post is about.  It is about giving up the objects I treasured just in case I needed them.

When we decided downsizing was the way to go I remember going to our closet and seeing the pants and tops I had used during my pregnancy.  I pulled them out of the hangers and put them in a plastic bag.  It occurred to me then that we at some point silently agreed we were going to have only one child, but still I held on to my pregnancy clothes, and the baby clothes, and the toys, stroller, high chair, activity center, swing, car seat, and the guest bedroom.

I was holding on to a baby that could yet happen.

I realized I could not give this baby up until we had said it out loud.  Yes, that’s what we agree.  We agree to only have one child because that’s what we both want.  I will write about my side of this decision on a later post.  What I want to share on this post is the fact that sometimes in order to let go of things we hold on to, is necessary to look at the reason we are holding on to them.  Sometimes we think we have made a decision, but we haven’t.  We have only tricked ourselves.

I had tricked myself into thinking I had made a decision about having only one child, but I had not committed myself to it.  In my mind I had made a compromise: I will say it, and I will not look at these treasures anymore.  I will put them up so they’re not in the way, and they will remain in this house in case we need them.

In reality I was dancing a dance, I was maintaining a struggle, I had locked possibilities in my life.

Everytime the question came up in conversation I was not able to say it.  I would just give a vague: Well, we haven’t decided yet, but we’re leaning towards having just one.  People would nod, as if they understood.

So, one day on our commute to work, or to home or maybe to the store, I said it out loud as close to a statement as I could.  “I think we have decided to have only one child, right?” And the answer was “yes”.  Of course the conversation was more complex than that.  The point is that it was a matter of saying it.  Putting it out there, confirming it.  Yes, this is the path we want our life to go.  We are committed to it.

That weekend I hauled all the baby stuff I mentioned above and put it in the garage, where now it sits ready to be donated or thrown away.  There is no struggle anymore.  I can let go, and it is okay.

If my post resonated with you and you know other people who would find it interesting, practical or inspiring, please share it with them by email, facebook or twitter.  Sharing is the only way my writing will reach new readers.  Thank you!


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