Letting go

Earlier this year, I spent five very awesome months living in Sydney, in a small flat with very few belongings. (You buy less when you know that everything you acquire has to either be got rid of or expensively shipped in a few months.) Returning to the UK in July, I was taken aback by how much stuff I have.

The sense of having so many things around me is overpowering, even stifling. I find myself thinking longingly of my nice, empty flat in Sydney. The washing-up has less chance to build up when you only have two plates. It never takes more than ten minutes to tidy everything away. It’s easy to choose clothes (though I admit I was kind of bored by my half-a-dozen tops and three skirts by the time I left). There’s just more space.

And yet I still find it hard to let things go. To get rid of a bookcase’s worth of books took multiple passes. The book I removed from the shelves on the fourth pass was no more nor less valuable to me then than it was on the first pass, but it took me that long to wear down my attachment to the concreteness of it; to allow myself to let go.

This week, I’ve let go of a stack of Audax brevet cards (to the recycling), a dozen-odd festival programmes (posted to the John Johnson Collection), and some more clothes.

I also went through my craft drawers, and found a stack of “requires mending or altering” projects. One in particular, a top I knitted, made my heart sink. Currently it’s a little too wide, the seams are lumpy, it’s not the right length; and I can’t even begin to work out how I’d alter it so it’s enjoyable to wear.

For the last year — more? — I’ve been looking at it, and thinking those same thoughts, and then putting it back in the drawer, to lurk there and generate guilt. Because I knitted it, and so surely it’s worth doing something with.

This time, I took a deep breath, asked myself honestly whether I was ever really going to fix it, or if I even really wanted to (do I need another top?), and acknowledged that the answer was no. So I took another deep breath and started to rip it out (I do still like the yarn!).

It feels so freeing. I enjoyed making that top; I learnt some things from doing it; but I don’t actually wear it. So I’m letting it go, and the decision leaves me feeling lighter. That’s worth remembering.

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5 Responses to Letting go

  1. Wulfie says:

    I totally get this. I'm a spartan at heart too. More stuff means more work and messes and it all leaks into other spaces too. But it's hard to let go of things we 'might' need or want or find a home for.

    Good for you letting go 'stuff'! Yay!

  2. wrtrmaus says:

    I'm having the same feelings lately, but am having a difficult time letting go of things, or even getting myself to go through things in the first place. So, definitely good for you that you've reached this point.

  3. marie says:

    Yes, it really feels freeing, doesn't it? I spent my summer vacation emptying out the garage, which meant letting go of stuff accumulated for the last 40 years (and this makes me sound like a real pack rat, I know…) – and after the obvious agony over the decision to throw it all out, I felt sooooo light, 40 years lighter actually :-). So now I'm working on letting stuff go from inside the house, but that is much more difficult. Just like you, I'm very attached to my books (and my clothes…, aaand my shooooes!), but I'm working on it! My mantra while going through the closet is "does this sweater really serve me right now? (asked about a five year old sweater that is two sizes too small… but I'm planning to loose weight! and it is still a gorgeous sweater! Sigh.) But what is it that Havi always says? No guilt allowed! We are all working on our stuff…

  4. Juliet Kemp says:

    @Wulfie – thanks! I *want* to be more spartan than I am, I think.

    @wrtrmaus – I know the feeling! I have to grab the moments when I do feel inspired to go through things and do it a little at a time.

    @marie – I like that mantra! I will bear it in mind next time I'm going through the wardrobe in particular. The other thing I've found helpful is reminding myself that if I pass it on to the charity shop or freecycle or similar, then someone *else* has a chance to love it and actually wear it.

  5. char brooks says:

    Hey Juliet:

    What a great inspiration you are to let go of things that no longer serve us – and also I love how you empathize with those feelings of loss as we do let go of this stuff. . . .
    Beautifully said.

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