I come from a family of hanger-oners. We have a really difficult time letting go of anything. I married a wonderful man who keeps things too. The difference between us is that while my stuff is totally disorgnized, my devoted husband is the king of the rubbermaid tubs. He still has every paper he ever wrote in undergraduate school along with every notebook and textbook from every engineering class carefully tucked away in a tub just in case some day he might need the information in them.
For me the weak spot is books. I have a very difficult time letting go of any book that I purchased. This is especially true for authors I love. I have entirely too many books for the available book shelves in our house and yet I continue to stop by the used book bin, or the library book sale every chance I get.
Sadly, with us as parents, our children didn’t have a chance when it comes to being pack rats. Each of them in their own way is showing signs of this affliction.
I have recently been reading a wonderful little book by Kathleen Norris called The Quotidian Mystteries; Laundry, Liturgy and Women’s Work (which I picked up at the first SBL conference I went to in New Orleans in 2009 and am just now getting around to reading). In it Mrs. Norris makes connections between the daily work that (usually) women do and the Paschal Mystery. At one point early on she quotes St. Teresa of Avila ; “Thank you God for the things I do not own.” This statement really opened my eyes. I have too much stuff.
If the stuff I have isn’t making my life easier or more comfortable or something I have a planned use for in the very near future I must learn to let it go. In my case this means more than bagging things up for charity and then shoving the bags into the corner of our rather spacious laundry room to be dealt with later. I need to make a decision about where these things should go and follow through on lettting them leave my house.
I see this becoming a very spiriitual journey as I let go of the “things” that are crowding around me so that I have more room to move and breathe and grow.
So long as I am not just making room for more sttuff.