The Power of Letting Go

One would think that travelers above all others are the world’s worst hoarders.

There are so many memories packed in to those steps walked, busses taken, classes taught, and people met. You get things out of them.

A simple rock from the ground.

A piece of paper that is your bus ticket.

Gifts from students.

Soggy peanuts.

Okay, maybe the peanuts don’t make it into your bag of things to keep.

Perhaps this doesn’t ring true for all travelers because ultimately things tie you down. At least that’s what I’m learning. All of my life I have lived in a house packed with things. Not only useful objects, but items that get placed in boxes and bins only to be forgotten. Eventually, they become the majority.

Maybe I’ve been reading too much from Simply + Fiercely  and A Small Wardrobe, but about a month ago I made the decision, even if only subconsciously, to start downsizing my life. I began with something simple: emails. How many websites, companies, and other things do we sign up with only to have them on that long list of things that need to be deleted? It used to make me crazy receiving 15-20 emails a day that I knew were going to be put into a virtual trash without ever being read. I suppose I could have just left them, but that would have driven me crazy. Yes, I am that person.

Let’s be honest:

  • I don’t care if it’s 30% off.
  • I don’t care if it’s the newest.
  • I don’t care when your sales happen, because I will buy the things I need on my own schedule AND from the places I feel are worth giving my money to.

It was with that clarity that I began staring at my closet.

Although daunting at first, I began sorting through my wardrobe asking myself, “If I haven’t worn it in six months, why do I think I’ll wear it now?” It’s not as though any of my clothing was hiding. Everything is in plain sight. So again if I’m not using it, why keep it?

There were some items I was surprised to realize I wasn’t holding on to because I actually wanted them, but because of what someone else would think if I suddenly didn’t have it. That became a qualification for it to go, almost automatically. Just as quickly went things that I wore in spite of comfort, or things I kept because I was saving it for when I bought something else. The fact of the matter is that I usually have about 10 go-to items that I cycle through in a week and all the others get substituted in on an as-needed basis.

As I think back on it, I can’t really articulate all of the items that have found their way out of my space and into the hands of others. Coffee mugs, clothes, art and office supplies, at least a dozen glass bottles and jars, and books. Lots and lots of books, my friends.


Some items donated, others sold, and still others given to family.

There comes a point where the things we own tell people who we are more than the stories of our lives. Why is that? For many it is because we live in consumer societies that daily preach the shopping mantra: buy more, be happy. However, I am here to say that just isn’t true.

Physical objects can be a burden, some of them even harboring life events you’d rather not hold on to, but for some psychological reason or another we do. I’ve only begun chipping away at it, but I already feel that when the time comes to pack up and move, I’ll be ready.

That said, the only thing I couldn’t seem to part with were rocks. I have picked them up from nearly everywhere I have ever been, yet if you were to pull one out of a jar I couldn’t tell you where it came from. What possesses me to keep them?

Some are from humble places: playgrounds, nasty lake shores, even parking lots.

Others from the world’s most magestic locations: Yading, the Ozark Trail, the Montana Rockies.

Regardless, no one else is going to see anything but a rock. For all they know I found it by the side of the road (and some of them I have). Perhaps there is a note of symbolism in having a foundation, perhaps not, but they have a life all their own. They harbor time, and memory long since forgotten. They will forever be just rocks, I know. Still, in light of many things exiting my world, I found that they remained.

I’ve decided I don’t want to be bogged down by things. I don’t ever want to live somewhere with only things to keep me company. Of course, I’m still only human with oddities and quirks like everyone else, but things will not be an obstacle when it comes time to pack up my world and move.

Maybe one day I will even have to say goodbye to the rocks?

Until next time!


Just a lot of rocks…

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