This past weekend has been marked on the calendar for a while as the time when most of the remaining stuff must go, because we didn't want to leave things for the last minute and because we wanted to return the trailer we've been borrowing for months and months. Whatever we'd been holding on to "for just a little longer," has now been removed, and we are now basically down to six bar stools, five mattresses on the floor, a handful of dishes and our travel bags. And, even though we've been serious about getting rid of stuff for months, there was still so much stuff. Most of the items were easily gotten rid of, without a single thought, except "Why do we still have this?!" But some of them held more of our hearts and required a bit more than just a cursory glance and a casual toss in a bag.
For instance, Clay had somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand stuffed animals, which he has been reluctant to part with. He has a special small friend to travel with (O. California) and a couple of long-time friends (Nemo and Oosh) in his box of things to keep. The rest had to go, so Jeff told Clay it was time to let other boys and girls have a chance to play with these friends. Clay didn't cry or get upset and, true to his nature, actually seemed happy to share them with someone else. But he did kiss and hug each one and then shared a special message with each individual, like, "Have fun!" or "I'll see you later." It was the sweetest little ritual.
When it was time to load up Jeff's over-sized recliner that we've had since Ruth was born, Jeff stretched out in it one last time and delivered a heartfelt speech to it. All the boys then followed suit. It's been a good chair and a good friend, and it will be missed.
There was also another kind of good-bye. In the storage closet upstairs, there was a box of my old journals, some dating back to my high school years, that I have been holding on to all these years. I've moved them countless times and, though I never really go back and read through them, I have felt incapable of getting rid of them. It just seemed like too much history to dispose of, too much of myself to say good-bye to. I have specifically been avoiding cleaning out that closet because I didn't want to have to decide what to do with them. But, yesterday, when I finally went up to tackle the closet, I had a revelation: I know who I am, and I don't need to dwell on who I was.
Don't get me wrong, I think there is value in self-evaluation, in looking back at where we came from and realizing how we need to change or how we've already changed. But, sometimes, we get so caught up in the past that we let it rule our futures. We let the past define us, and then we are afraid to become something new. We carry it with us for years and years, and it becomes a heavy, paralyzing burden. I threw the whole box of journals away, and I'm not sad about that. It's actually a relief to not move that box again. I'm not defined by my past, and I am free to step into the future uninhibited. Are there things from your past that you need to let go of? If so, I would like to encourage you to go ahead and do it. I don't think you'll regret it.