Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Keeper of the Stuff

My sister is leaving the US and moving to Germany for a job for an undetermined length of time. To do so means going through her lifetime accumulations and deciding what to sell or give away and what to take and or keep (i.e. put in storage). Any move makes you do that, but to move abroad makes the task much more intent. One thing this seems to do is encourage you to examine who you are and what "stuff" means to you. The other thing I'm seeing is having to determine what your role is in terms of other people's stuff, i.e. your kids. How long do you remain the keeper of school books, favorite sweaters and kindergarten drawings? Where do you draw that line and say "Here's your stuff. You're in charge."

My dad sold all of my high school treasures in a garage sale (without telling me) right after my mom died when I was 22. My pep club sweater and jacket would probably still be in an attic if he hadn't. And all my old sweetheart letters were tossed. How musty would they be now and who would be in charge of them? And you know what? It doesn't matter that I don't have them.

When my (current) husband and I got married, there were many times we referred to something we used to have but had "lost in the divorce." There was a certain amount of resentment associated with that statement. One day we talked about people losing everything they owned in a tornado and how miraculously life seemed to continue. We agreed at that moment to refer to anything we had lost in a divorce as "I lost that in the tornado." Somehow the resentment disappeared and we were happy to be where we were in our lives.

There's something liberating about giving up possessions. Having our identity tied to our possessions is sad, but very easy to do. I do it, I know I do.

What could you give up and still be you?

1 comment:

Teresa J. Wilber said...

Does all this stuff really make me who I am? Good question! I've often had that same thought about what we can really live without, though we hang onto so much. When we go on long road trips, we pack JUST what we NEED (with the required reading books, of course). Then, when we return, walk into the house, and see all that we have left behind, we tend to reevaluate the stuff waiting for our return. That goes for clothes, too. I often say that if we ever move to a new house, I am only packing what I really want, and leaving the rest behind.