Before the letting go of anything, there is the willingness to let go.
I said before, I'd been operating in a sort of save-everything default
mode. The best thing this decluttering project has done for me is to
make me more mindful of what I'm accumulating in the first place. Until
now, I would keep everything unless I could convince myself there was a
good reason to discard it. Now my philosophy is to question everything,
to justify keeping rather than discarding/donating it.
been eye-opening. Do I really need so many pairs of black socks? So many
address labels, bookmarks, barrettes? Do I need all those business
cards I've been saving--how many of those people will I contact again?
These pants that will probably never fit again? This expired medication?
These train schedules that are more than a decade old? This game I
never play? This watch that two different jewelers were unable to fix?
These keys that match no lock I know of? My elementary-school report
cards? My college ID?
Some of these are items that would be
useful to a biographer. But let's face it, nobody will be writing my
biography. And if they do, they'll just have to live without my
third-grade teacher's appraisal of my penmanship, or the sight of the
perm I had as a college freshman. Many of these things I held onto
because of their association with pleasant people or events: a ribbon
from someone's bridal shower, a ticket stub from a concert, a piece of
wood from a magnificent old tree that was chopped down when I was in
But the things are not the people. The things are
not the memories. How much of the past do I have to cling to with
visible reminders? How much of it can I let settle inside me, and trust
that it has become part of me?
These are the questions I've been asking.