A Letting Go Moment

If only...

That show, Hoarders, scares me just a little. The story about the poor woman in Las Vegas who disappeared for 4 months only to be discovered under a pile of her own mementos scares me a lot. I keep thinking, if not but for the grace of God go I.  Okay, maybe that is overstating things a bit. But I understand that need to hang on to things. That sense of utter offense when a loved one lightly tosses what I consider “precious” into the garbage without a second thought. My parents’ attic is testament to my sentimentality. (I’m going to clean it all out! I promise!)  

In the past few years, I’ve been working to purge myself and my life of this “personal detritus” as I saw one web site describe it. Though you wouldn’t have noticed my little stashes of “treasures,” little by little I’ve tossed literally hundreds of pounds of stuff away and hauled hundreds of more pounds of things to Goodwill.  

The final push was this weekend. However, productivity doesn’t stand a chance without reinforcements. That’s where Marrakesh comes into play. A Chinese green tea with a bolt of refreshing spearmint from American Tea Room. The spearmint combined with what is known as ‘gunpowder’ green tea is just the driving force I need. This would be my sustenance to reach my personal goal: To get down to one large Rubbermaid bin of mementos, reminders of my personal history and the people who influenced it. Just one. And it had to be light enough so that if for any reason it fell on me, I would not be crushed by the weight of my own junk!  

  

Why is it so difficult to let go of these things? I’ve searched the internet for tips on how to let go of personal mementos. The advice seems to be geared toward items that have been given as gifts. I have no problem with that. My problem is photos…  

  

And letters…  

  

And an embarrassing number of notebooks with the beginnings of several dozen great American novels. These make up my personal history. This is my legacy. And maybe that has been the obstacle. By throwing these meaningless things away, I am throwing my life and who I am… away. I always admired the stories of Anne Frank and Laura Ingalls Wilder who documented their lives and live on in books and the imaginations of children around the world. But let’s get real. I’m no Anne Frank or Half-Pint. I’ve never suffered through war or great oppression. I have not pioneered my way across an unforgiving land.  

However, my outlook is a bit different now. I have a daughter. She is my legacy, or at least a part of it. And isn’t the more important legacy about how we make people feel each time they encounter us, not the stories and personal effects we leave behind? (To be dealt with by someone else, for which I’m sure they are truly grateful.)  

I am taking to heart more and more what St. Teresa of Avila once said:  

 Christ has no body on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours. Ours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out upon the world, ours are the feet with which he goes about doing good, ours are the hands with which he blesses his people.  

That puts things into perspective. The good and kind and meaningful things that happen each day are a result of our choosing to do them. Today, I choose to take out the trash and then make dinner for my husband and daughter. Today, that is enough.  

An International Tea Moment now has a Facebook Page! http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/An-International-Tea-Moment/160567147290939. Share your tea moments with me there! 

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “A Letting Go Moment

  1. I love this post! Such wise words … I certainly hope my kids remember me more for the things I did and said than for the stuff I leave behind. 🙂 Love the picture of you with Michael on your back … i have that one too!

  2. Jen

    I can’t believe you recognize that picture! I didn’t let that one go, just for the record. 🙂

  3. Meg

    Nice senior picture Gene! I’m sure there are drama pictures in that pile aren’t there… 😉 I have the same issue. I declared 2010 the year of clearing out the clutter! So far, it’s been pretty well. Lots of purging of random crap, clothes, kitchen stuff I though I needed and never used, etc. However, every time my parents come to visit they bring boxes from their attic of h.s. pics, college pics, letters, etc. I haven’t gotten to those boxes yet. Let me know what you end up doing with yours. Good luck!

    • Jen

      Oh the drama photos! You might cringe. I did (a bit). 🙂 My next move is to get a photo box and sort photos by “era” for lack of a better term – jr. high, highschool, angst, early marriage, etc.. Or maybe by “event” – trips, birthdays, family, etc. I decided the majority of letters from friends document thought processes or memories they would most likely never want to relive, so I only kept postcards, which seem to focus on positive experiences or funny stories. Letters from family, however, are hard to let go. Still trying to figure out a system there…

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