What does it mean to live? At the most basic level, it’s about being alive, breathing, existing. Yet for most of us, that’s not enough. We want our lives to have meaning. We want to give, to love, to connect with others. We want to explore, to create, to taste, to feel, to see, to touch all that we can. We want to do and just be. Do we spend our time with what matters most to us? Or do we spend our time stuck, feeling anxious, overwhelmed by our things, wishing that life were different, or that we were different? We live. But how do we live?
The “stuff” of life comes to us. We either intentionally acquire it or receive it from others. The sources can be physical, digital, or emotional. We range in our acquiring patterns from overconsumption to more minimalist approaches. As professional organizers, part of the work we do is about helping our clients manage their acquisitions. We teach them to edit, organize, and let go of the “stuff” that no longer serves a purpose for them. The acquiring is easy. However, once something belongs to us, it gives that “thing” more importance than it had before it entered our lives. When our emotional attachment takes hold, it can make letting go more challenging. What is enough? Knowing that there will be a time to let go, how will that influence our acquiring behaviors? How much time do we want to spend managing our “stuff?”
The ultimate letting go is with our last breath. Before that happens, there are many other types of letting go along the way. All of the things that we’ve collected and edited and organized and struggled with eventually move on. Either we take personal responsibility for our possessions and make arrangements for their release, or we don’t. If we don’t, it becomes someone else’s responsibility. This someone might be a loved one or a stranger. Working with both elders and their adult children, this struggle around keeping or letting go is an integral part of my work. It’s also part of my personal experience as a parent and daughter. If our “stuff” is a burden on us, what does it become for those it’s left to?
We live. We acquire. We release. We know the pattern. What resonates with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you having challenges or successes in any of these areas? Please add to the conversation.