Reinventing a Life | Getting Rid of the Unimportant Clutter

I recycled the pages from my work annals of the last 3 1/2 years. 20 notebooks’ worth.

In recent weeks, we’ve also recycled, tossed and donated years of evidence of life. Hard, emotional, cathartic, rinse and repeat. Sorting through the accumulation is a different way to have life flash in front of you. Or is it behind you?

“Where are you going, my beautiful friend? Is this the road that we take ’til the end?”

The thoughts swirl and do battle to get to the page. Bottlenecks. Partially finished paragraphs. With each review, an overwhelming sense of something not quite identifiable, I think I must write about this. But how to mold the words into just the write shape? Decluttering, but also deconstructing a life in a sense. What has made me me? Why do I have all of these things? How do I define my life in stuff?

Toss another box. Read, reflect, sad, happy, smart ass. And the artwork? What to do with the things I actually crafted with my own hands? And the delicately crocheted doll clothes made by my deceased grandmother? This is why people don’t move. It’s way easier to just keep accumulating…buy a bigger house…fill it with more stuff…forget what the hell it is you have in all those boxes…build more shelves.

And then there are the discoveries. The art of making friendship bracelets as a problem solving exercise; hours and hours of intricate knot tying and the reverse engineering of patterns. The mountains of sketchbooks and essays. I was a writer long ago, before I knew to question my voice of the present. I was a drawer and a painter and a jewelry and bead maker and a photographer and a collector. The negatives? What to do with the negatives?

Sometimes powered by fear of missing out, fear of what-if, fear of losing memories if we lose the stuff.

In cultures where there is less stuff, are memories more likely to be in the form of storytelling? Does more stuff equal less storytelling?

What will my kids care about 20 years from now? Will they want to see that photograph of mama surfing in Byron Bay? Will they wish I hadn’t erased my Peace Corps history because the letters are gone?

Ultimately, they are just things. We are lighter without them. Perhaps short a few memories. Will it matter? What really matters in all the boxes?