“As I began to love myself, I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health; food, people, things, situations and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism, today I know it is love of oneself.” Charlie Chaplin
With the popularity of minimalism today many people are finding themselves on a path to simplicity, simplifying areas of their over complicated lives. At the age of 53 I found myself on the same path. It started with looking around my home and realizing that our family had collected too many “things” for various reasons and the accumulation of these “things” were interfering with my life on every level. As I started clearing “things” that were in my way, it became obvious that not all in the family felt the same way. I tried to force my opinions on my boys and my husband only to be called a declutter bully and I quickly realized I was on my own. I decided to focus on decluttering my “things” with the hope that my family would follow my lead.
As I started down my path, I initially thought it would be very easy. I mean how hard is it to throw “things” in a box or a bag and drive those “things” to the nearest thrift store. I found out that it is not as easy as I thought. The first few loads were fairly simple, surface things that had no ties or emotional memories and getting rid of the surface “things” was fast and furious. As I continued to declutter and with each new load taken out, I soon realized I was getting to the Holy Grail of clutter. The clutter with the emotional attachments, the clutter that had meaning, the clutter that I had absolute no use for but for some reason as I held each item in my hand, I would find myself putting the item back on the shelf. To be honest, this shocked me as I moved a lot as a child and I never put a lot of stock into houses or things. I often said houses are just four walls and I could live within any four walls as long as there was a roof to cover me. So why at 53 did I find myself with emotional attachments to things that had absolutely no obvious physical meaning?
After much thinking, meditation and decluttering, I realized that not being able to let go has as much to do with our own mortality as it does with the physicality and meaning of each “thing”. Our lives fly by in a blink of an eye and suddenly these “things” remind of us of those times we can no longer get back, or people who are no longer here and it becomes increasingly difficult to let those things go. It feels like you are letting yourself go piece by piece. So I started on the difficult task of letting those precious items go and every time I had a hard time letting go, I would sit with the piece for a while and meditate as to why I was having problems letting it go. As you can imagine all of this took way longer than my original plan of piling everything in the truck and heading to the local thrift store. It’s taken weeks, months and I’m still on the journey of letting piece by piece go.
I’ve discovered that by letting go of those beloved treasures that represent the past, I’ve also embarked on a much-needed emotional cleansing as every part of this declutter process has become a journey of cleansing my soul of past negative experiences and mourning the loss of happy experiences and the people associated to those experiences who are no longer in my life. When I started this cleansing journey, I never realized that I would be releasing myself from the cocoon of the past and by removing the layers of this structural shelter that I built for myself, I would release myself, not only from my own behaviours that were weighing me down, but I would soon release myself from the grasp of others whose behaviours and patterns I once accepted and tolerated in my life, behaviours that no longer served me and kept me wrapped in layers behind the outer walls of the cocoon.
The difficulty of this process deeply disturbed me because even though I knew that releasing negative behaviours and people tied to these behaviours was necessary, change is difficult and it is easier to find comfort in the known rather than move into the unknown. You can’t just walk up to someone and say “that’s it, I don’t accept or tolerate this anymore, especially since I tolerated and accepted the behaviours for so long. I am very much the guilty culprit and I hold myself responsible for this acceptance and tolerance.
However, I am also responsible for my destiny and as I continue the declutter journey of my soul, I have promised my soul that I will only accept and tolerate behaviours and attitudes that support the emotional growth and transformation of my soul which will ultimately release me from the structural cocoon that only serves to suffocate rather than protect. I no longer accept or tolerate being treated less than, I no longer accept or tolerate being classed into distinctive groups that are used for division and discrimination, I no longer accept or tolerate behaviours that only concentrate and focus on what one has rather than who one is and I no longer accept or tolerate negative behaviours from myself or others who are currently in my life or come into my life. My soul wants more; my soul wants complete forgiveness for past transgressions, my soul craves no restrictions as I travel through the unknown and my soul wants to be free and clear like the larvae that is released from the cocoon to begin its transformation. My soul wants complete love of oneself.