Hanging On – Letting Go

I’m currently dealing with the lifetimes accumulation of a late friend. More than a few times I have thought to myself, Goodness! how could you have/why on earth did you…save all of those…! Fill in the gap. And I have to be careful not to condemn him in my mind. What he left behind reflects his passions and I can bow to that.

And so it is when one’s belongings start to accumulate, it is all too easy to be bound up with self condemnation. Not a good state to be in when sorting since rushed decisions, driven by guilt, can lead to long term regrets. So it is important to have compassion for oneself and that which has gathered around you. Just as  I endeavour, at the moment, to have compassion for my friend as I bundle up a mountain of maps!

When I arrived at Shasta Abbey in late 1980 with the intention of becoming a monk I had a backpack with me and a box of books arriving later by post. That was it! I’d imagined getting to this point of few belongings but this time I’d achieved it. Almost. I’d wanted to be able to carry all that I had, but I was close. On reflection I made some unwise decisions and would have done well to retain more than I did since lots of my belongings would have come in handy later. But storage is the ever present problem isn’t it.

Much is written about getting rid of stuff, about de-cluttering, about living simply with few possessions. Here’s a couple of articles by a woman in America who, with her husband, had to up-sticks and move. In the process she had to let go of, among other treasures, her dairy cow Daisy!

As I sit at my computer, the sun pouring though the windows and a gentle breeze wafting through WeeHavyn, I can’t help but reflect on the winding path that led me to simplify. The process was not always pleasant, but the freedom and richness it has brought to my life has been worth it. Of course this happened in several stages and the first one was sheer terror and resistance.
Hanging On – Steps to Simplify Part 1

And then:

Day by day our load lightened and I began to enjoy the process. I started cheerfully giving things away, much to the puzzlement of our friends. After all, shouldn’t I be sad that we couldn’t keep Aunt Ruth’s table? But I wasn’t sad, I was elated. You see, where I at first felt powerless in this whole process, I came to realize I could choose what I wanted to share my life with. What could be more powerful?
Letting Go – Steps to Simplify Part 2

In my early years we moved rather often. When packing my mother had a mantra, put like with like and when faced with items we no longer needed she would talk about resolving rather than get rid of those things. To this day I repeat her mantra and avoid thinking about getting rid of things. Early learning comes in handy later on.

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7 thoughts on “Hanging On – Letting Go”

  1. Moving requires redrawing the mental map of where things are and rebuilding associations that as we age become more-and-more layered and nuanced. H. and I are in that process now, and despite the luxury of temporarily holding both locations, it’s still a trying process. To deal just with books, (as perhaps you are), it’s clear that we’ll not live long enough to read them all again. But that’s not really the point, they are _part_ of who we are, part of how we construct the ‘same’ person each day by our surroundings. My core books are almost all second-hand and out-of-print, many with hand-written personal dedications to persons unknown and long-deceased. Somehow I feel I’m holding a chain of continuity that surely will break, but better in its own time rather than by simplification _per se_. I don’t think this is attachment, but could be wrong. So, I think of you at your task and understand in part what it entails for you.
    with bows

    1. Hum Walter. That all is interesting and yes I am dealing with ‘books’. What I have learnt over and over again is that this process of ‘resolution’ will not be hurried. Just today a significant next-step was going to happen, but it was not to be. The universe was not ready to bring the necessary people together in the same place at the same time.

      What you describe about your caring for books makes sense to me. There is nothing so sad as seeing old books in a bin. Once when in Alston I found myself fingering such sad books in a skip. I can’t remember how many I rescued, if any.

      I like the ‘holding the chain of continuity’, I see that in my storing family photographs. Yes, and retaining my mothers hand written receipt books.

  2. I moved quite alot when growing up and went to some 25 different schools so when I was able to say no I’m staying here I did. And like Walter the core of my belongings are books, lovely and old with my notes in the margins or a strangers. Art supplies, music and now lots of other things , too much actually. I have often worried about someone dealing with the aftermath of it and no doubt that person would ask themselves why on earth did Gay have this or that? So I have been donating, tossing or reinventing “stuff”. With the words you wrote I have decided to dig deeper and “resolve” instead of ridding. What an amazing way to approach letting go and continuing to have your mothers words inspire a person miles away. You have given me a blessing.

    1. That’s wonderful you are picking up on my late mothers word. I think I have a passion to ‘resolve’ things. Loving to dig into piles and ‘find good homes’ for items. Another term my mum would use.

  3. Well, I sometimes suffer too from my “accumulations” as rev Mugo mentions them so recognizable. I wanted to say something about it, but I am reminded of the scripture of great wisdom: “for here there is no suffering, nor yet again is there accumulation”. I forgot what I wanted to say, is not important. I bow

  4. Rev Mugo…I thought you would enjoy knowing how “resolving” is taking off with some of my friends…I mentioned how I liked that approach so much better than getting rid of. I had friends ask “what is it your Rev Mugo said?” Your mother and you are making an impact here.

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