As I have written here, getting rid of stuff you aren’t using anymore feels pretty damn good, for so many reasons. There’s the knowledge you’ve freed up space (and money) for more mindful choices about what comes into the house in the first place from now on, and you have reminded yourself to make that choice in the store rather than just grabbing and bringing it home. There’s the sense of release in admitting you have not used something for five years and/or have never really liked it (not really) so you can let it go, no matter who gave it to you or which relative’s house it originally came out of or how excited you were when you bought it for the version of your self/kitchen/living room you were living in at the time. There’s the cheerfulness of hope and expectancy – now you have room for gifts, or rearrangements, or delightful discoveries on future trips, and patience to wait for the truly special discovery. (Ahem… Italian pottery, anyone?) And you have the discoveries and rearrangements within the self that changing up your external circumstances and attitude to things can bring. Personal organizer Julie Morgenstern remembers being told, “Your house is beautifully organized but it’s full — if someone were to give you a bouquet of flowers, you wouldn’t have anywhere to put it!” That statement’s stayed with me, another self-declared self-sufficient single woman — our barricades of stuff, however edited and organized and securing-us-against-the-world-feeling, can also keep us in and keep others out, keep us locked into versions of what our lives “should look like.” If it doesn’t enable the person I want to be, right now, and doesn’t reflect my tastes and interests, right now, can it go? Probably so.
Perhaps the most important reason for clearing out and letting go is just the general, thorough, top-to-bottom sense of renewal it gives. Which is why a friend of mine and I are clearing out our cabinets and closets and making piles for our first-ever yard sale.
What’s in the stack? A cute red pitcher-and-mugs set and a cute mugs-and-platter set with Italian bistro designs. A vintage tin cake carrier I have never used. Vintage dishes. Multiple coffee mugs with neat designs or art reproductions. when I pulled them out of my top cabinets, my first thought was how cute they would be in the kitchens of the young women (former students) I know who are setting up housekeeping for themselves. Tablecloth-and-napkin sets that fit the table from my first apartment but no table I currently own. Many books. (There always are – and always more left.) A teapot. A spare teakettle. Etc.
And what did this make room for?
A cabinet full of the pottery I made, displayed and organized where I can reach for it and use it every day. (The misshapen bowls from early on are going to be repurposed as toad abodes – half-buried in the garden soil to make little low places for toads to get underneath and hide.)
Platters and trays lying in a buffet drawer, easy to store and to reach for.
The ability to assess what I actually do have, and what I really do want and need. And, blessedly, a sense of inner space and independence that comes from the ability to let things go.