a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Hold on to the meaning, let go of the rest.

I’ve been immersed in unpacking – realizing that it is worse than packing. Packing has a deadline, so the challenge is mostly about separating and stuffing. But UN-packing is harder because as you look for places to “put” things, you start to question all of your possessions in a new way and also just where it all came from, if it’s still relevant and important and if not, who might find use for it, and on and on.

There are some things that I’ve moved around with me for a long time and most of them feel special and worthwhile – photos, sports equipment, even old sweaters can hold meaning and nostalgia. And then there are books, I have lots of books that I can’t part with, but I try to keep the ones that I really do look at again and again.

See this glass rabbit? This holds a clear memory. It was given to me when I was 6 years old – my twin sister was given the same one in white. We were swimming in a Howard Johnson’s swimming pool. Another guest came out of the gift shop and gave these to us, saying with a smile, “Twins for the twins.” Nothing more. We left that day and I have kept this with me through around 24 moves.

It was the kitchen stuff that got to me the most- lots of mismatched cups and glasses and plates and bowls. Do I need all of them? I tend to gravitate towards using the same bowl, the same mug, even have a favorite spoon….these I find comfort in having and even holding.

So, it was fun today to find this on NoImpactMan blog today and especially enjoyed this story about a teacher in Japan and his clay mug of 35 years….

Then look around. What possessions hold meaning for you – how can you be sure to keep it around and enjoy quality and not quantity? Plant the seeds of this awareness and you will have a more clear path to meaning and joy in your head and in your home..

4 Responses to “Hold on to the meaning, let go of the rest.”

  1. chelsea bay wills Says:

    i like this! my parent are moving out of their house of 24 years… and going through all the “stuff” with past meanings, memories, etc. so of course my sisters and i have to go through our stuff as well. the thought always goes through “i should save this for my kids”- but why? do they really want to see my old prom dress, or clay sculpture i made when i was 6? can i still hold those memories and meanings just as dear without having something tangible to remind me of them? or the house even… i know my mother is sad about where we will hold christmas- as it hold such strong traditions for our family. but cant we hold those memories in our heart- and isnt christmas more than tradition and a place?
    I like to keep in the mentality that if i lost every thing i had- including my identities of job, home, stuff, etc- that i would still be just as joyful and self knowing and at peace. im sure that is easier said than done- but i think about it often:)

    cant wait to visit you in your new home!!

  2. phyllisdiehl Says:

    i loved your very sweet blog, and i want to see the glass rabbit, and never get rid of that….i am not a saver, i just save words….letters from my students and parents, letters from my family, and letters from my sons and daughter-in-laws. words have always touched my heart….and has so much meaning to me. words, can brighten the day. can inspire, and can tell you how much you are loved. it is interesting to see what people like to save. me, its always words.

    i wish your house to be a house of love, gentleness, fun, and caring.

  3. tao Says:

    Thanks for your comments — a lot more good thoughts. I love the idea of the words, Phyllis. I too, save letters and cards – a big box of them has traveled with me for a long while. But I never thought about it quite like you described. I especially like the idea of saving those but letting go of other things…

    Chelsea, wow, when I imagine losing my belongings, I can’t imagine being peaceful. I guess I have a lot more spiritual work to do….no surprise. My parents left “our” house, too. The holidays have been different ever since. But I guess different doesn’t have to be “less”. I have a feeling your family will take all the joy with them wherever they go.

  4. carter Says:

    Just when you think that old thing is worn out…wait a little (or a lot, this case, longer). I purchased a very nice leather wallet when I graduated high school (24 years ago) from money that given as a gift. Fifteen years ago, It was starting to fall apart and I began to keep my eye out for another to replace it. I lost interest as it did not continue to deteriorate. It has remained in almost the same condition since then, even without the use of duct tape! And, oh, if that wallet could talk!….the places it has been, where it spilled and temporarily disappeared; it was even held for ransom.
    So, hold on and see what you can squeeze out of the item that *might* need to be thrown out or replaced and pass along those things that you just don’t use; lightening the *load* is amazing in countless ways.

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