I've been thinking about this for several weeks and probably even longer than that. I couldn't get my head around the idea fully and so kept trying to think it though before I touched the keyboard. Some ideas are not meant to appear on the page fully formed, though, so here goes.
Thinks that make it difficult or hard to define:
- People take it personally if you don't want to do all their stuff anymore. They take it personally when you say you are quitting cooking. Or quitting holidays. They think it means I am going to hermit in the woods and never communicate again with the people I love. Not true. None of it is personal for you. It is personal for me.
- It's a long process. I started getting rid of stuff years ago, probably when my kids left home. I realized that I didn't need to be responsible for the emotional and physical work it takes to catalog all that stuff. To clean around it. To drag it out of the basement at the right time and then to store it all again.
- It's very rewarding. Deciding that I am quitting something always leaves room, physically and emotionally, for the things I would rather do or "store". Getting rid of stuff on a shelf also makes room in my head. Gathering up all my writing projects from the past thirty years means I don't have to feel guilty because I'm not doing what I always intended. They don't go to the recycler today, but they go to the basement for a waiting period. Then they go permanently away. It's cathartic.
- I have strong emotional ties to some of the stuff I am quitting. I have a collection of binders for my holiday cooking. Seriously. I have one for Easter, one for St. Patrick's Day, four for Christmas, a couple for Thanksgiving. Last fall, my daughter-in-law, Emily, took over responsibility for Thanksgiving and Christmas so I didn't even look in the binders for those holidays. Not very many years ago, I wept when I thought of not having holidays at my house. It felt like I wasn't keeping Christmas and keeping Christmas was my role, my responsibility. Now, it feels liberating. The binders are going to the basement and then to the trash.
- Some things I keep just for memories, but now I'm asking myself how much worth does it have even as a memory if it's on a shelf in the basement.
- Why do I have a whole room for eight big chairs and a table when it's rarely used? Valuable real estate put to poor use. What would it mean if I just got rid of it and turned that room into something else? Regis and I both have hobbies that have to be packed up and stuffed into tiny closets because our rooms are full of stuff we don't use.
I can see I need to do some thinking about what I do want in my life. What are my priorities for my physical space, my emotional work load, my mental work load?
This is my first draft.