Saturday, November 15, 2008

My New Leaf

It must be the current of change I feel in life this time of year when the leaves fall that reminds me to switch out my closets. In our old house with tiny bedroom closets, this involves pulling my cold-weather clothes out of storage and packing warm-weather clothes away. I notice that I’ve hung on to things I no longer wear and that don’t fit. Why do I do that, moving unused stuff back and forth? And it’s not just the clothes; it’s easy to accumulate clutter everywhere. So after my closet is changed out, I use this clearing-out feeling to get rid of all sorts of unused stuff that has found its way into our house.

Where did all this stuff come from? How did this junk get here? It’s like so much flotsam and jetsam that washes up in the tide of my life onto my beach, my house. It lies around, and then is replaced with more stuff when the next tide comes in. At one point, these things had value, a purpose, a function. Then something changed. No longer cherished or useful, they lost their place in my daily life—replaced, discarded or forgotten—and have been tucked away instead of thrown away. I commit to clearing out this accumulated junk, which once had purpose, in order to make space for the new.

I wish it were as easy to do this with the emotional stuff I cart through life, like baggage full of useless, outdated and outgrown things I no longer use or need but refuse to part with. As familiar, and therefore comfortable, as they are—and as uncomfortable as it feels to shed them—this emotional stuff becomes clutter that congests my inner landscape. Like my wardrobe change-out, I’m going to take some time each Autumn to review accumulated emotional defaults to see what’s working, what ‘fits’, what can be discarded and what needs to be replaced in order to make way for the new. Because this, too, is my junk, which once had purpose...

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