lighten up

This week an organizer/declutterer who was highly recommended came by and I showed her our upstairs front porch (my office and storage) and our mess of a bedroom. She clearly had seen worse – she didn’t flinch – which made me feel a little better at sharing something so private, and shameful in a way. Many people have an overcrowded or not well utilized space, it’s just more often a basement or a spare room that gets everything we know not where to put …A room that is overcrowded or out of control. Well, we have several but will start upstairs where I spend a lot of time and have gotten acclimated to the undone “to do”list that the stuff all around me represents.

I just booked a day in May to start. It will be an early birthday gift, to let go of some of the stuff I am surrounded by, or at least to have it better organized. I still have all the things I’ve gotten from my father’s apartment, lots of wonderful items with fond memories, things that will stay with me, and eventually find a home. We will move at some point in the future and it will all go with us, and the walls will be filled with photographs and pictures, the things from my father’s and from this house. Yet beyond that which will remain there is still so much stuff, much that I hope to get out the door – thrown out or donated – and some that I’m not ready to let go of, that have too much meaning still, like so many photos I can look at again and again and I need to scan and organize, something I’m not up for doing just yet.

I went to a lovely event at my cousins for another cousin who wrote a book about her family who perished in the Holocaust. It’s deeply researched and beautifully written and contains some extraordinary photos of her cousin, who was an actress in Vilna. It took her seven years to write it, to do all that research, to weave it all together into a cogent and compelling story that has great resonance even now, especially now, when hate is so rampant not just for Jews but for people who are black and brown or transgender or gay, the news is filled with horrible stories and how do we make sense of it, how do we fight against that sort of vitriol? The book is full of answers as well as questions.

It takes time and laser sharp focus to complete a project, from writing a book to planning a move for oneself or a loved one to letting go of stuff that is no longer useful and to contain the rest, 

the stuff that is your life story: for me, old family photos and all the commissioned reports and studies I had published years ago, art work that has meaning, a small collection of buddhas, books that I want to hold on to because they speak to me in a powerful way. Other things that I want to keep.

And then there is everything else, like old files of V’s, voluminous bins filled with IEPs (individualized education programs) and reports and notes from doctors and social workers and therapists, papers we can probably get rid of although they tell part of V’s story. I think I’d like to let go of much of it, to lighten my load. I know his story so well, I don’t need documentation from all the years we have worked towards progress in his development.

We all live with stuff. Emotional and physical, heavy and light, I think about that on my daily walks as I sort through the detritus of my brain, sorting, keeping, tossing out as I hope to do with more tangible things. The trees all have their green leaves now and the local parks are lush. I no longer have my beloved magnolias yet look – dogwood trees, and lilacs! And our azaleas are out! Nature, where everything has its season and does not sit unsummoned in a bin for a decade. Yes, there will always be stuff. The key is not to let it overwhelm us, to lighten our loads as much as we can and to appreciate what remains

6 thoughts on “lighten up

  1. Great piece. I struggle to get rid of things too, but it always feels good to toss and donate a big bag of things.We should all feel a little lighter.


  2. So beautifully said, Jon. Love the image of the seasons that each have their time and place. Always looking for ways to break through my sentimentality that has accumulated into mounting ‘stuff’. Here’s to lightening up!


  3. Reminding me of The Band lyric:..”and you put the load right on me”…and Harrison:
    “Give me hope
    Help me cope, with this heavy load.”And of course,George Carlin bit about Stuff. Anyway,great stuff here-
    I’ll be in the closet.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: