“A house is just a place to keep your stuff
while you go out and get more stuff.” ~ George Carlin
I am feeling a sweaty heaviness.
Not so much in my body, but in my soul. A weight tethered to me like a lead sinker tied to a fishing hook.
The feeling has the familiarity of the dread I experience when procrastinating. The refusal to look at what needs to be examined. The tucking into a drawer a document I don’t want to read. Moving a certain task noted in my planner from Monday, then to Tuesday, Wednesday, and then to the next week. Knowing I need to have a certain conversation and letting the call go to voice mail.
Procrastinating has a signature scent—a blend of shame, hiding, and fear of judgment. It renders my inhale/exhale shallow. I’ll catch myself not breathing at all.
I have identified the source of my current weighty worry: stuff.
When I lost my house during my Nuclear Winter period of 2008-2013, I began a new relationship with stuff. I left the vast majority of what I owned behind and took only what either had deep personal meaning to me or business/financial importance. Photo albums. Gifts. Clothes. My son’s things. Files.
Over the last eleven years, I have cycled through phases of accumulation, then purging.
Stuff seems to glom onto us like lint, tartar, and other people’s expectations. Subtle, out of nowhere, and barely perceptible at first. Collecting this or that, feeling a need to own, or perhaps wanting to put distance—a buffer—against the pain of what I am feeling and/or thinking.
A tipping point is reached, and we all of a sudden notice we have to tend to it. This is where I am.
And this time, I’ve noticed something new.
I’m excited. Giddy, in fact, at the prospect of getting into every single cardboard box, plastic storage bin, and drawer. I want to examine it all. Hold it up to bright sunlight and determine whether each item is relevant to me, fits my life now, and is loved by me.
Or decide if it is merely a remnant of a smaller version of my soul, a defense mechanism against feeling, a delay tactic, a place to hide out.
Coco Chanel said, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” I believe this is true for all of us when we decide to declutter, go into the junk drawers (literally and figuratively) with abandon, and truly tackle our relationship with stuff.
Face what we do not dare to face. Feel, at last, what has wanted to land for maybe months, or years. Remove the tiny shields, one by one, until we are fully revealed to ourselves.
It is here that we leave the chrysalis that protected us while we lost our way. And it is here that we will climb out and take flight.