I’ve been spending hours throwing my life away.
With each of the moves Beckie and I have made we have purged ourselves of more and more extraneous stuff. After living in PA for a long time, bringing up our kids, we had two friends come through our place and help us “unload” a ton of stuff. When someone who has no emotional ties to stuff asks, “What are you keeping this for?” and you start to explain “Well, we were walking on this beach, like 8 years ago, and the kids were playing ahead of us, just kind of running around and that piece of wood just bumped my foot in the water and it felt kind of cool in my hand when I picked it up and so I brought it back home here and put it on that shelf and…” it can make you realize that you don’t need to stick to keep the memory. So, you can let the stick go. We spent a lot of time getting rid of stuff then.
In Florida, where there are no basements (at least where we were), we didn’t collect as much and we also got rid of even more as we settled into new/different space. As we moved back to PA, we spent hours, again, clearing… and now we’re here.
One of the traits of my family of origin is collecting. My casting off is going against the grain. So, it’s been tough to get to this point where the stuff I’m getting rid of now is closer than memories; it’s part of my skin, much of it being what I’ve produced in my life.
My Mom, one of the original collectors, has acted as a witness to the life of her children. As adults my sisters and I each received a box of our “stuff” which included every report card, every card we made or sent to her for Mother’s Day, every article in a paper that listed our names, every particular aspect of clothing that was different from regular clothing – bear-shaped “extenders” so a little growing boy could get a bit more use out of suspenders on his shorts or the shop apron he wore when he took the class in 7th grade. And so I’ve been digging through my life and throwing away a lot.
Pictures I drew when I was 3 ½ or 7 or 10, stories I wrote when I was 5 or 6, folded paper projects, small simple puzzles or maps… quite an assortment of nostalgia. It has all been surveyed, considered and in most cases discarded. That has lead me to my own files and so deeds of houses past, contracts, letters of recommendation, scripts, stories, sermons, poems… all products of times and places past are, at this moment, being loaded into the growling garbage truck outside our window on Orange St.
Most of what is being swallowed by the mechanics of the truck are things of which only I would have interest. You may be one of those gasping a little “no” about this, but if I sat you down and made you look through the boxes, and made you listen to explanations or stories connected to the stuff, you’d only be able to hold attention for moments. I remember these things. I connect with these things. So, I can let them go.
At this moment of my life I want to look forward. I’ve come to believe sincerely that nostalgia is the enemy of faith. Faith moves forward into the unknown, the unsure and the “what if.” It’s where Jesus calls me into trust. That’s where I want to go and that’s what I want to find at the end of days…what’s next. I can’t be carrying all this stuph if I’m going to get there.