Wednesday, January 26, 2011


About two and a half years ago, my friend Adrian came over and cooked me a Hungarian dinner. It was shortly after Ryan had passed and I was still extremely numb. As we sat at my dining room table, Adrian's eyes glanced around and he innocently asked, "what are you going to do with all of this stuff?"

What was I going to do with all of that stuff?

At the time, I did nothing. I let it sit, accumulate dust and clutter my living space. I got so used to its presence and living amongst it that it was easy to ignore. Other things demanded my time - and I was happy to put dealing with "stuff" on the back burner. I also didn't have an ounce more of energy to put into simplifying things.

The orphan sock pile grew. The stacks of read Climbing, Bicycling and Rock & Ice magazines grew. The opening of my guest bedroom closet door meant taking your life into your hands with odds and ends flying out. My bookshelves were filled to the brim - and threatened to collapse under the weight of more stuff piled on top.

Yet I continued to ignore it. And it continued to grow.

Life on the road this past fall and early winter created a sense of clarity and wisdom. It felt great to travel light, bringing the minimal amount of stuff and ditching the rest. A light bulb went off - and when I finally got some down time at home this January, I knew it was time. I got rid of the orphans. I recycled the stacks of magazines. I sold things, I took piles and piles of things to goodwill. My rule of thumb? If I haven't touched it in the past six months, it's time to go. And if I had a house fire and everything burned to the ground - what things would I miss? That's what I kept.

After 10 years of living in my house, my bedroom is exactly how I want it. The walls don't have a single photo hanging from them. My closet only contains clothing I wear. My bedside table has the current book I'm reading, my journal, lamp and alarm clock. Nothing else. And it feels amazing.

This detachment from material possessions is a challenging but rewarding exercise in letting go of things and acceptance. I wonder if this personal growth and returning back to basics is part of the process - part of the healing. And boy, oh boy does it feel good.

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