The Big Hurt

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Standing in the middle of our living room that warm August day over 5 years ago I should have been filled with excitement. A new job, a move to a completely different state, and an opportunity to truly forge our own path was on the horizon. But as I stared at all of the boxes and piles of stuff accumulated from the previous 7 years all I could do was…well what could I do? For one of the first times I can remember I felt overwhelmed.

How could we possibly get rid of enough stuff in order to move from a house to an apartment and not have to saddle up money for a storage unit? Everything that I looked at seemed to be linked to a memory. The tent and backpack that allowed me to hike thru the Porcupine Mountains in the upper peninsula of Michigan,  the baseball glove I had used all thru high school, even the trumpet I had used while performing in a bowl game for marching band. True, I hadn’t used any of these items in years but they still reminded me of some great experiences. While I had always done well in decluttering I had never engaged in such a massive undertaking. I’m honest enough to admit that it hurt – it felt as if I sold or gave away these items I was giving away a part of my life. This was the kind of hurt you feel in your bones – it was that big. Who was I without these things that had in some way expressed to others what kind of person I aimed to be? Books, movies, clothes and various other collections each hinted at certain aspects of my personality. How would people know that I loved baseball without all of my baseball hats???

There was no reprieve, however, as we could not take everything with us. So I played a few notes on my trumpet, caught a few balls with my baseball glove, and even put on the backpack one more time. With each item that I was able to let go of I slowly began to experience a new feeling: relief. I no longer had to find a place to store this stuff, I no longer had to maintain/clean them, and I certainly didn’t have to pack them up and move them across six states. It then dawned on me that each of these items served their original purpose brilliantly but I no longer needed them.  They were just things and the memories they produced would stay with me irregardless of it I kept them or not. Slowly, and with some trepidation, I began to peel away certain items and either sold them or gave them away to Goodwill and friends. After engaging in this routine for roughly a month we found ourselves left with all of the things we really needed to have and nothing that we didn’t.

Once we had finally packed up the moving truck with the remaining items I knew that I did not want to go back to a life that was filled with stuff that was only going to take up my time, energy, and resources. Life should be filled with experiences and not just things and I was determined to at least respect this idea in the way we lived. Little did I know then that removing these things would allow me to pursue some passions that had not yet fully developed.

I’d like to say it was smooth sailing once we arrived in South Carolina – but all good stories need to have a little drama. 🙂

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