Getting Rid of “Stuff” – The Process of Letting Go

With a month to go before my big overseas move, I am finally able to focus my attention on deciding what to bring with me and what to leave behind. It is a gift of an opportunity to lighten myself (I’ve been channeling St. Francis all week), but it does bring up a lot of emotions and attachments I’m having to work through. It’s a fascinating process.

I realize this process would be different for everyone. Someone who lives out of a backpack would laugh at the absurdity of my attachments. Someone with a household of big furniture and several children in tow would probably envy me. And the person who has never known want might pity me. That in itself is fascinating…the fact that we all have such different points of view. But this is my process…

It is amazing how identified I have become with certain objects…they mean so much more than what they are, if you know what I mean. Everything I own was hard-earned. And now, I’m selling it for a fraction of cost or in many cases, giving it away. It sometimes hits me as a terrifying process. It sometimes hits me that I have totally lost my mind. And then I remember how nice it is to be mobile and free. I haven’t quite made up my mind about it all yet, though.

I’ve discovered that it is extraordinarily costly to ship things overseas. If I owned anything of high value, it might be worth it, but in most cases, most of what I would take would cost more to ship than its worth. Ironically, though, it will still cost more to replace, so every decision is a weighed one.

As it is, most of what I want to take has now been reduced to the highly practical or highly sentimental (and even this I debate on a regular basis). I was shocked to realize that an 11 lb. box shipped USPS would cost me $82 smackers (and about half the value of what was inside), shocked again to learn that airlines charge anywhere from $96 to $285 per extra bag. Baggage forwarders can offer the median $154 per bag. But you can see, it quickly adds up. I could use a shipping company, which makes it more affordable to ship greater quantities, but my problem is, I don’t really have enough to make that worth it. Besides, there are tax and duty considerations. So…minimalism is key. Right now, I’m still not entirely clear on how many bags I will have. I’m estimating no more than ten. It comes down to this: the less I take with me, the easier it is and the less it costs to get it there.

Some of my pricier (but heavy) electronics will be hard to let go of, not just because of my identification with them as an artist, but because I know I won’t be able to sell them for what they are worth nor replace them inexpensively. The thought crosses my mind that if I don’t own a digital recorder, mic, and vocal amp, am I really still a professional singer? Will I hear myself crying, “Why oh why didn’t I ship that?” down the road? My mic is light, but whether or not I take it will depend on whether or not there is room for it. Will I find a way to replace it all when I get there? Or will everything else take priority?

 

If I let go of the flatware I’ve been using since I was a child (and they just don’t make it like that anymore), will I later long for the weight of it in my hands and resent the cheap stuff that has taken its place. Yes, I realize I’m assuming the worst here. That is one of the things coming to light as I go through this. I have to keep reminding myself that it is possible something better will take its place!

Some things are just too big – my bed, for instance. Every night, I slip into that bed and thank God. I will miss it dearly. It took me 9 years to finally buy it for myself after years of sleeping on air mattresses, rock-hard foam, and even my massage table. But I simply can’t take it with me, as comfortable as it is with its yummy cream flannel sheets and super-thick cotton blanket. A comfy bed to two will be one of our first priorities now that I fully understand the value of such a treat.

I just went through my clothes yesterday. What a project! I kept having to take breaks every 10 minutes because it was so overwhelming. I’ve been reading about minimalists who own 1oo things, and I can’t even get my clothes down to 100 things. I will say, I did manage to discard about two suitcases worth. It felt really, really good. I consigned some of it, put aside some pieces for a friend, and gave the rest away.

As for the kitchen, I won’t need most of that. The only things I’m finding an attachment to here are my spices. I know I can get spices anywhere, right, but for some reason, it just seems like such a waste. I also have some really nice health supplements I hate not to take because I have no idea if I’d be able to find them in France.

Selling my car will be hard. My car is a symbol of my freedom, my ability to care for myself, and my security. Still, I’m enjoying the process of cleaning it up and preparing it. I have to remind myself it will go to someone who really needs it. It will improve his or her life and really, it’s the only thing I have that will actually give me a nice chunk of dough for the trip over because I actually own it. I wish I could say the same about my house, but as I bought it right before the market crash, I’ll be lucky to break even. That wasn’t how that was supposed to go! Regardless, I’ll be relieved to be out from under it.

That pretty much sums up this experience so far…a heady mixture of relief and grasping, opening and clenching, releasing and accepting. It’s intense.

I can’t take any furniture really – not even the Colonial Hunt chair and small table that I grew up with. The rest I don’t really care about anyway. It served a purpose, but I’m not attached.

I spent a month or more converting what I could of important papers into digital form. But I still have a filebox full of papers and notebooks I will absolutely have to take with me. I also spent a week or so transferring my entire desktop computer to my laptop. The desktop, which I had made locally and has served me flawlessy, will remain behind. (Anybody want to buy a desktop?)

I’m also taking my newly sorted clothes, shoes, some personal items, 2 stuffies to keep me company, a few kitchen items I know I’ll miss in France like my American unit measuring stuff, I’ve reduced my books to two (so sad), my Qwerty keyboard (so I can use Stuart’s computer without wanting to pull my hair out), some small electronics and software, and essential sound healing tools and power objects. That’s about it. And if I wind up with a little extra space, hmm…maybe I’ll rescue my books.

I’m curious. St. Francis, how did you do it? How did you just up and walk out naked one day and not miss that cozy sweater and warm, fuzzy socks? You were lucky not to have an American washer and dryer to mourn. I’m no St. Francis, but I’ve always wanted to know what letting it all go feels like. Bit of a mixed bag.

It’s funny, really. Compared to so many, I have had so much. I have lived so comfortably. Have I been blind? Yes. In many ways, I have because I have fallen prey to an ingrained materialistic mentality. And I’m grateful that this process has revealed just how much I have already been given to enjoy in this life. What boggles the mind is how little it has been compared to so many others who think they will never have enough. The truth of it is, I’ve always had what I needed…not much more, but never much less. Letting it go is easy when I remember that.

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