The Emotional Attachment of Things
One of the subjects that has occupied me since I began this journey towards tiny house living is stuff. I have a lot of stuff. It has accumulated over the years, as I have mindlessly purchased things because…. well, who knows why?
I have been reading a lot about minimalism and de-cluttering. I have been taking steps to rid myself of things I don’t want or need.
I don’t want to be owned by my things, which is what I see has been happening. I spend so much unnecessary time taking care of objects. I would rather spend my time, energy, and money elsewhere.
I must have a large closet because I have acquired too many shoes, too many dresses, too many jackets. I must have a wall of bookshelves because I have accumulated hundreds of books. (Now, don’t get me wrong- I love my books and those will be difficult to pare down.)
I don’t want the burden of having to care for and store this many things over my life. I also feel that it’s a bit selfish of me to have 5 coats when some people don’t even have one. I could give some of them away and they would go to better use.
There’s an idea out there that if you buy or possess something that you don’t need or that doesn’t add value to your life, that you are taking away from someone else who does need it.
I know that this doesn’t apply to all things. It does help me to think about that when I am shopping or deciding on what will be leaving my house, though.
It has been surprising to me, discovering how I have become attached to some material possessions that I didn’t think mattered.
At first glance, I’ll think that I can easily throw out, donate, or sell some small object- for instance: a desktop globe that I barely notice on a daily basis.
Then, as I go to move it and I can feel the weight of it in my hand, I’ll start thinking about where I got it and why. Suddenly the thing that I easily would have thrown out minutes before becomes a cherished item.
It’s times like that when I wish my memory wasn’t quite as good as it is. I seem to have a knack for remembering tiny details about silly things. I can remember who gave me things from years ago.
For some reason we, as a society, think we are obligated to keep and store all these momentos from the past. I am no different. I have been programmed to believe that objects are important. Far more important than they truly are.
I have the memories of people and if I need to, I can take a picture of the gift they gave me and then move on with my life. This is what I tell myself.
Still, I feel a tug inside me, like a thud on the side of my stomach, at the moment that I put something that means even the tiniest bit to me in a bag or box to be carried away.
I’m working on this. This thing that makes me feel a little queasy when I say good-bye to an item. I know, logically, that it’s a good move, that I am getting closer to living and being what I believe is right.
It also fades. After a week or so, I’ll look around and I might remember that something used to sit on that shelf, or in that bare spot in the corner. I find myself feeling freer, and happier seeing the empty spaces.
That thing that gave me a pang when I took it away now makes me glad and a bit proud of myself that I got rid of it.
I like the less cluttered space and enjoy my living area more every time I clear it of something.
So, like anything, it is a work in progress. I try to think about why I might be feeling attachment toward an item. A lot of times it has to do with the people or the place and not the object itself.
When I was traveling in foreign countries I made new friends and had amazing experiences. Many times I brought back a souvenir. Those are things that I find fall into the category of my attachment being more about the time, place or person.
Being self-aware and acknowledging the feelings and why I have them helps me to let go.
My favorite blog right now on the subject of minimalism is Be More with Less. Each post is a little pep talk. Which I certainly need at times.
I am also working on the other side of this thing- the stuff I buy. My usual method of purchasing involves me exclaiming, “Oooohhh! That’s pretty!” or some variation of that and then running off to buy whatever it may be.
That’s how I have boxes of brand new high heels in my closet that have never been worn and never will be, at least not by me.
My goal now is to buy with purpose. With intention. To think about why I want it, what it will add to my life. If I do decide to buy something that is not a necessity, something old has to go.
Just because a thing has beauty does not mean that I need to possess it. I can admire from afar.
This process of looking at my possessions in a meaningful way and choosing what is truly important to me is good. It is part of my journey and it is hard at times, but it also helps me to understand myself in new ways.
I’ll leave you with this image from Be More with Less: