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Chatterbox: Letting go


There comes a point in many lives whereat the things that once brought us joy begin to bring us stress.

Chatterbox has talked about how everything we own ends up at the flea market, eventually, because, beyond the stuff we have that others may love, need, want, or be able to use, we have the things that only work for us. Decade by decade, we all accumulate things that will, no matter how eventually, outlive their timeliness, their use and, sometimes, their viability. Often, we keep them because of their sentimental meaning.

Photographs are the biggest heartbreakers of all. It seems they are the most precious, yet too abundant to be enjoyed. They’re the greatest thing ever to look at as a group, though we never seem to be able to do so, even though, today, we have more technology than ever to do that. Even when organized and readily available to view or enjoy as a group, they don’t usually hold as much enjoyment or value to others ... unless, if ever, they become historically significant.

So, at some point, our lifetime joys, photos included, become things we don’t know what to do with. We keep much, if not most, of them because we feel we must or should, or because we don’t want to not have them if and when we need or want them. At some point, they become burdens of not only weight and space, but, worse, a concern as to what we’re leaving behind for our next generation to deal with. Sure, other things can be sold, passed on or donated to be used, worn, and enjoyed.

Many are useful to someone, even if not us or our loved ones. Those are easier to let go ... and we will. This is a very good thing. With few exceptions, we can always justify, if not enjoy, letting our possessions go, and we’re fortunate if we see them start a new life elsewhere. Just as bringing something into our life and home gives us joy, so does giving something away or passing something along. Casting off our possessions is a healing, cleansing process. The hard part is getting there.

Cleansing our home of yesteryear, giving away the things we love but no longer can hold on to, making choices as to what we can realistically keep or are using, is difficult. Still, it’s much less difficult and far less emotional than things like walking away from our children, leaving them at school for the first time. Throughout life, we survive a staccato chorus of goodbyes to people and things.

I’m a hard core “Christmasophile.” Two years ago, I began giving away my collection of Santas ... not antique but beautiful and well-chosen; it was hard, and separating collections is particularly hard. It’s all part of the process of the evolution that is our life, but I thought, as most of us would, “what if I want to put them up again?” The things we love or admire often carry with them the memory of how and when we came by it, decided to bring it home, and enjoyed it over the years. Yet, there’s definitely that cathartic feeling that letting go brings ... then, always, that pang of doubt. It feels good ... but it’s not easy. Does anyone see a parabola here? Of course, and it’s unavoidable.

Eye candy for ourselves and our homes, and the lovely and sentimental things we’ve grown to love, looking at them every day, or every holiday season, is a tough goodbye. Our things are attached to moments and memories; that’s why they bring us joy and are hard to give up. There will be regret, of course, minor or major, but the clear head we gain from knowing we’ve got less to pack when the movers come, and a smaller emotional mess for our inheritors, will also bring us joy.

My sister met me for dinner a few weeks ago. When we were leaving, she put a huge bin in the back of my car. She wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything in it I wanted. I went through hundreds of photos of people I didn’t know, funning and sunning with my parents in Florida, for decades, decades ago.

They were valuable to my parents, and that made them valuable in their own right, but to me, having none of those memories, they’re just another decision. Worse, if I don’t make it, my kids will have to.

… Oy!

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