I am amazed how much easier it gets each time I get rid of something. I recently donated more stuff, including furniture that has travelled from Halifax to Seattle to Ottawa to Seattle again. Obviously, there was an attachment that held me back from giving it up before. But now, it’s gone without any regret or second guessing.
Most of my stuff is only of value to me: sentimental value or replacement value. It would cost a lot of $ to replace everything, but if I took it to a pawn or consignment shop or sold it through Craig’s List or eBay, I wouldn’t get rich. So either I’m holding on emotionally or I think I’m actually going to have a need for it someday. Like I might have a need for 84 cups* at once or the juicer I haven’t used for at least nine years.
I don’t have children and I remember, a few months after my niece was born, laughingly telling a friend “Now I’ve got someone to leave all my stuff to!” I was pleased to know she would receive all the heirloomy family items I have, including furniture and jewelry.
When I was looking up the quote by Pema Chödrön in Taking the Leap for my previous post on storylines, Pema’s experience after her mother passed on grabbed my attention: “She had kept boxes of papers and trinkets that she treasured … They had represented security and comfort for her, and she had been unable to let them go. Now they were just boxes of stuff, things that held no meaning and represented no comfort or security to anyone … I had seen that things themselves are just what they are, neither precious nor worthless, and that all the labels, all our views and opinions about them, are arbitrary.”
I’m ready to downsize everything, including my boxes of trinkets and memories, but what to do with the heirloomy items? As it is now, when I die my family will inherit a bunch of unorganized stuff and not necessarily be able to identify a previous-generation antique or jewelry item. Lightbulb: I will go through it all and carefully chose for my niece some small items that belonged to different family members. For example, a small gold shimmering purse that was my paternal grandmother’s and makes me think of her wearing it in the roaring 20’s (the box it is stored in even has my name in her handwriting: she specifically wanted me to have this). I’ll clean and pack the items well, and include a note. On the note, I’ll identify the family member the item belonged to and a memory of that person or what the object has meant to me.
I’ll keep just a few items and then document (as best I can) and give the remainder to my brother before I pass on. I want to simplify this soon – I may not have the energy or memory for it later. I’m hoping the items for my niece will all fit into a small box of treasures that she will enjoy when she’s older and while I’m still alive. To be determined: what small cherished item of mine I want to include.