There is something I like about funerals and memorial services. Of course, there’s not much to like when someone close to you dies! But having been through my parent’s services and those of acquaintances, there is something of lasting value to them.
They make you reevaluate how you are spending your time. And reevaluate what direction you are heading. Reevaluate your life.
“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”
Psalm 90:1 NLT
I ask myself more often these days: Is this activity something I’ll be thankful I spent time on years from now? Or, does this activity have any eternal value? There is only so much time and we have less than we think. I’m getting more judicious about how I spend my time. And then there is the stuff that accumulates over time. The memory-laden trinkets, souvenirs, awards, clothes and stuff we schlep around with us for years. Sometimes they stay in their boxes from move to move. (Not that I would have any first hand experience about that).
My mother has been gone for three and a half years. I’m still sorting through her things. The emotional attachments are at times too painful to part with. Even though I don’t really need any of it. Still, it seems practically sacrilegious to toss her needlepoint pillows she spent months laboring over while at my swimming meets and watching Packer games. The clothes she bought me when we were shopping together that no longer seem in style? I struggle to donate. I did however, give away her light fixture I admired. I hoped to put it into a new (fantasy/mythical) home we would buy and move into. But I need to live the life I have now, not the life I imagine in the future. I have quite a rich imagination and I can squirrel away a myriad of things for my future life I think I might need. But now with her gone I have a new weapon.
Instead of Marie Kondo’s method of asking the object if it “speaks” to me (why yes it does Marie—they all say: “You might need me!!! Keep meeee!”) I stand there staring at the emotional items rich with memories and ask: “What would mom say to me?” I know what she would say about the light fixture: “For goodness sake! Get rid of it! You can buy another—it’s not that special.” The needlepoint pillows? “Oh honey! The work I put into those!” Thus the lights were tossed, the pillow is on my bed. For most items, I know she would say, “Get rid of it!” and that has helped.
What also helps is realizing I can’t relive my childhood, her last days with me or any mythical time I think I might live in the future. I can only live the life I have now. And if that time is going to be rich and rewarding, it’s best to be unencumbered. Travel is easier with a lighter load. Opportunities can be seized if your hands aren’t full. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I slowly work through the piles…
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What’s in my ears?
This book I’m listening to has helped a lot-
It’s Peter Walsh’s “It’s all Too Much.” I know what to do (throw all that stuff away I haven’t used, worn, looked at in years) but Peter helps identify the myths and fantasies that keep me holding onto things. He helps you let go of your fantasy life (“I’ll need this ballgown for the next time a dignitary is in town!”) and enjoy the life you have now. His take on the joys of being more minimalist will get you motivated.
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