Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Purge

I read many Facebook posts this past week in which the poster mentioned purging.  Every one of these comments referred to the process of cleaning closets, offices, back rooms, garages, etc.  The new year is a great time to go through the old stuff you never look at to decide if it is worth holding on to for another year.  Before this year, I don’t recall being aware of so many different people taking advantage of the winter holidays to clean up their places.
Samantha and I participated in two different purging efforts.  The first, and more time consuming of the two, involved a family effort to go through Samantha’s Grandmother’s house.  She recently passed away, and the family finally had an opportunity in which to gather.  We spent two days delving into her history, deciding what needed to go to whom, what needed to be donated, what needed to be thrown away, and what could be sold.  I learned much about this woman with whom I had interacted for eight years, but never really knew in depth.  It is amazing the story your belongings can tell to anyone willing to listen.
As a result of our two days, Samantha and I decided to do the same with our own house.  We began in the kitchen, throwing away food in the pantry which had expired (2003 was the oldest - Yuck!), rearranging, and consolidating.  We attacked the cabinets and discovered we had an excessive amount of coffee and tea mugs.  The fridge was purged as well, leading to the discovery of more expired food items, mainly salad dressings and other jars on the door; it also received a thorough wipe down.  Old coupons were thrown out, wedding and birth announcements discarded, and the ridiculous amount of chopsticks and plastic utensil pouches were disgracefully thrown aside.  The kitchen took about an afternoon to go through.

Afterwards, I went through my drawers and closet, finding clothes that will benefit someone else more so than me (translation: I am no longer a medium).  I was amused to discover what a museum of receipts my nightstand had become.  Finally, as we put away our Christmas decorations, Samantha gracefully decided what to keep and what to let go.  We now have a decent donation pile waiting in our back bedroom.  I can only hope it won’t sit there for nine months like the last one.
After going through all of this, I realized how much unnecessary stuff we accumulate.  At one point, this random assortment of junk meant something to us; we endeared it with enough meaning that we thought it worth keeping.  Perhaps, when we first incorporated something into our experience, we imbued it with enough significant emotion we had to keep it.  Apparently, as I discovered, these memories have a shelf life, some longer than others.  When that time expires, so too does our stuff’s tenure.

Not my actual pile of junk!
Something else I noticed is our unwillingness to discard receipts, cards, magazines, fliers, and many other paper goods in a timely fashion.  In my own experience, I merely procrastinate the actual disposal of an item until it becomes part of the permanent exhibit.  I am terrible with mail and receipts.  They hang out on the counter or my dresser until I “clean,” meaning I put them in a drawer, unseen.  The trash is transferred from location to location until awareness of my actions settles in.  Only then, as I did this week, do I bare down and do what needed to be done weeks, months, and years ago.
I know for a fact that people do this within their own bodies and minds.  We have certain memories and experiences we give more significance than others, and we use these to anchor ourselves in the past.  They have a shelf life as well.  As we go about our business, we reach their expiration date, and either through ignorance or willfulness, we choose to ignore it.  These memories and experiences sit there, festering like a bottle of horse radish sauce that expired in 1973.
Memories and experiences like this can function as black holes in our lives; they develop an immense amount of weight.  As we succumb to their orbit, our entire existence is influenced by their gravity.  Eventually, if we allow ourselves to remain ignorant too long, we reach the event-horizon - the point where we can no longer escape.
Purging my house of unnecessary items this week helped me find a perspective on my daily life and the way I go about my business.  I am looking for the unnecessary and extraneous, seeking out thoughts and memories which might be holding me hostage.  Ridding myself of these will help me fly free.
My new goal is to analyze anything I encounter allow into my experience.  I will constantly estimate it’s worth, and when it has reached a point when it becomes unnecessary, let it go.  I feel this is only fair to me, to the world, and ultimately, to the people who love and rely on me.

No comments:

Post a Comment