09 June 2014

Keep What's Needed

For a week or so now, my practice has become to toss or give away at least one thing every day. As my hand falls on a piece of clothing or a Mardi Gras throw cup or a book or....I ask myself "Do I need this any more? Do I want this any more? Am I willing to expend necessary resources to ship this to Brazil?"

These questions effectively focus my thinking and decision-making. Although I have never been prone to hoard and, based on comments from friends and others, I live an exceptionally streamlined life, there is still by my assessment a higher-than-acceptable level of clutter about me. Accumulation of stuff happens during the less nomadic periods of my life.

One level of attachment that's proving very easy to relinquish pertains to items acquired specifically to support my residency here in Holly Springs, those things purchased or received to provide comfort or convenience at this locale. Business cards of MS acquaintances, for example. Hard-copy and digital files on the MS Arts Commission and Marshall County schools are other examples.

Another layer of the clutter consists of objects received from people I thought would become close friends. There was a potential "cherishing" that, in light of developments, has been cancelled.

Still other clutter is/are mementos; things I kept to coddle nostalgia for places and times I've visited, meaningful encounters with people I'll likely never see again. These include things like a rock received from a two-year-old during a brief encounter at a mall in Colorado; a pair of earrings I've never worn, received from a CouchSurfing guest; a book on Asian tea ceremonies received from the boyfriend of a woman I knew in Oakland; a yellow artificial carnation that I received during Mardi Gras from a strange man who kissed my hand....

De-cluttering and purging remains an unambiguous delight for me. Few activities produce the exhilaration I feel in the direct aftermath of emptying a drawer or closet, creating an open, empty space where once there was blockage. I experience the deletions as a lightening of body and soul.

One of the oldest objects in my possession is a Holy Bible with my birth name embossed on the cover. The white leather cover is cracked and discolored now. Only a few flecks of gold remain in the lettering. The zipper still works but the spine has worn precariously thin. I'll look through the book for any possible handwriting -- there is still something precious about viewing my childish handwriting -- but barring any discoveries, it is probably time to let go of this artifact.

Concrete objects stir memory and I relish remembering, like luxuriating in a hot bubble bath. I value more memory that lives not as a pretty knickknack on a shelf but as a tool that I use daily, a lesson or skill integrated into my life and identity.