Since we moved into this house 11 years ago, two bins have remained unopened in the garage.
The labels read ‘BOOKENDS.’ You wouldn’t think a bunch of bookends would carry emotional weight for me, would you? And yet they do.
This past weekend as I was putting Christmas ornaments away, I saw those two BOOKENDS bins and felt a pang.
I took notice, and decided to go sit for a little while and delve into my feelings. Why did I feel sad, and what did those two boxes of bookends represent? I closed my eyes for a few minutes and prayed for understanding.
After some soul-searching, I realized that the bookends were a tangible reminder of a period when life felt secure and settled. In our last house, when I was married, we hired a craftsman to build a handsome wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in our living room. Our two book collections were beautifully merged, and I assembled a dozen pairs of bookends from antique stores and eBay to make the shelves look like a magazine spread. We welcomed a baby and grew our family there. It was a house where we built dreams.
Two years later, hardly anything had gone as planned. My husband and I were separated, and the dream house was put up for sale. I downsized to a smaller home, and stored the bookends in the garage. For Someday.
I guess for the past decade, I subconsciously imagined that Someday I would unpack those bookends because there would again be a house with a big wall of bookshelves, and more books to merge. So the bins have stubbornly remained through numerous garage decluttering attempts.
Here’s what I realized this week, after contemplating and getting clear:
I think it’s finally time to let those old bookends go. I have different dreams and plans now. My family and I are happy and content here, and someday I’d like to downsize again. The book collection gets a little smaller every year.
Dreams change over time, and now I’m in a phase of life where I want to live lighter. Do you know what I mean?
It’s funny, but once I got clear about my attachment to the bookends, I started evaluating my deeper motivations for hanging on to a bunch of other stuff. I think 2018 is my year to finally let some things go.
How About You?
Would you like to try an experiment?
Go to your storage area, and stand there and look at your things for a quiet minute or two without judgment. Then ask yourself these questions:
Do any of these things evoke strong emotions? If so, can you spend a little time thinking about why, and what story or hope or dream or plan or attachment the object represents to you?
Next, ask yourself this:
What would happen if I let this go?
In “Farewell, My Punch Bowl,” I wrote about giving away a heavy crystal punch bowl after hauling it from house to house for 30 years because I wanted to keep it in case I might like to make punch someday for a party. I finally realized that if I ever did want to make punch (hasn’t happened yet) I could borrow a large bowl from a friend or neighbor.
Perhaps you’re ready to let some old stuff go, too.
On the other hand, if you have things that you’re just not ready to part with yet, honor that feeling. Tuck those precious things away, and be gentle with yourself.
You will know what to do when the time is right.
Just as I know that the time has finally come to let go of my weighty bookends.