Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let It Go

On a sunny, perfect afternoon earlier this week, Ellen and I were driving across town with the kids chattering in the backseat. As we sped across the Ross Island Bridge, Ellen told me that she would like to be able to let things go. Literally.

Over the years she has accumulated a lot of things, some of which she can not use now or is holding on to despite their being mis-matched with her life. A roomy house with a big basement have no doubt added to this feeling; it is so easy to keep things: in case they are needed; or you gain or lose 10 pounds; or you grow your hair out again. Other things are kept because they have sentimental value. You do not need that teapot, but it was your great-aunt's, and it is so lovely and delicate.

Ellen was inspired to release some of the things she has accumulated over the years by a neighbor who routinely and generously passes things on to Ellen and Monkey Boy. Ellen decided to commit herself to a year of letting things go, and asked if I would join her. I said yes; I share Ellen's desire to, and fear of, letting go of loved but unused treasures. We agreed that it would be easier to give something away if we knew it was going to someone who wants or needs it.

For Ellen, and for me as well, the release of things implies a release on an emotional as well as a tangible level. Both Ellen and I hang on to feelings, sometimes continuing to wring them out past the time we should let go. Hopefully this release of items can serve as a training ground, allowing both of us to let go of useless feelings about long past events. We may not want to pass such feelings on to others, but we can release them nonetheless.

Letting go is not completely new to either Ellen or me. We give one another clothes, share children's toys, and have even unloaded furniture on one another. But this time we have agreed to be conscious about the release - to find things that we do not need or do not use, and pair them with people who will value them.

Ellen is starting with a plate. The story of the plate is not mine, but maybe Ellen will tell it here. In any case, the plate (which has been in the basement for a long while) is going to find a new home soon. I am still looking for my first item to give away. As practice, I am going to return a shirt given to me by a neighbor. The color was no good for her, but one that works for me. Sadly, the shape is not flattering. By returning the shirt to my neighbor, I hope she will be able to find a more suitable home for it.

Things have stories. They are our stories, but they can also be part of a longer tale shared by many.  So here we go, we are starting a year of letting go.  Feel free to join us, and let me know what you give away and to whom. Because I love a good story.

1 comment:

  1. I give baby (child) things away all the time - a gate here, a Snack Trap there. Or clothes or a gently worn pair of shoes. It pleases me to pass them along.

    Last week, I gave away an eggplant that I'd gotten at the CSA. Because I do not love eggplant, much at all.