I found this fascinating article on the Brain Pickings site yesterday – timely, and relevant to what I’ve been thinking about recently, while in the process of sorting.
One of the most striking things about revisiting stuff from my past is how irrelevant some of it now seems. The passing of time inevitably impacts on our feelings and the emotional attachment we make to items can be considerably diluted.
I’ve been letting some things go in the process, both physically and emotionally – not much, it has to be said, but I’ve discarded a few small bits and pieces that no longer hold any great personal significance for me. It’s requiring time and patience – there’s a deep psychology attached to the art of collecting as any avid collector will tell you; it can actually feel physically painful to part with certain items, I find.
So I’m trying to be gentle on myself – and besides, I don’t have to get rid of anything at this moment in time. Looking ahead however, I know that it won’t be too long before I’ll need to confront the rest of the stuff I have squirrelled away in other peoples’ attics, garages and sheds. In the meantime, I’m following the advice of an artist friend through keeping photographic records of some of the objects I’m finding it hard to let go of. That seems to be helping.
The whole sorting process and thinking around letting go, is taking me back to 10×10. In 2008, I gave up 100 objects that were precious to me for exchange. Since then, I’ve religiously documented every exchange that’s taken place in the various outings 10×10 has had so far. It’s led me to some extraordinary stories and forced me to think more deeply about the whole concept of value and worth.
But for now, more food for thought on the subject of letting go via Anais Nin’s diary musings. I’m not necessarily at the stage I was at in 2008 yet – a point when I felt emotionally robust enough to part with a huge part of my past in the shape of objects (and 100 of them at that) – but I sometimes wonder if I might be building up to ridding myself of more things in the future …
by Maria Popova
“If one changes internally, one should not continue to live with the same objects.”
In September of 1944, amidst the physical and spiritual devastation of WWII, Nin writes in her diary:
The physical as a symbol of the spiritual world. The people who keep old rags, old useless objects, who hoard, accumulate: are they also keepers and hoarders of old ideas, useless information, lovers of the past only, even in its form of detritus?
I have the opposite obsession. In order to change skins, evolve into new cycles, I feel one has to learn to discard. If one changes internally, one should not continue to live with the same objects. They reflect one’s mind and psyche of yesterday. I throw away what has no dynamic, living use. I keep nothing to remind me of the passage of time, deterioration, loss, shriveling.
And yet we attach enormous significance to objects. But perhaps Henry Miller, Nin’s longtime lover and friend, had it right after all when he observed that “all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis.”