|Thankfully I'm not buying this much ice cream anymore.|
In the past months since I've retired, we've sent bags and boxes and piles of unwanted or broken things to Goodwill or the landfill, but the urge to document has become too strong to ignore. So I'm starting with today.
It's not just the amount, but the sentiment of past lives and experiences I don't want to forget. Yet I understand there's a cloying, heavy atmosphere pressing down when you surround yourself with your history instead of what's happening and important now. My husband and I often remind each other that we don't want to live in a museum. We've found we can let go of things that are sitting around out of sight, yet represent cornerstones to our identities, if we give ourselves time to get used to the idea. Terry, a former newspaper editor, finally gave away his lifetime collection of important newspaper headlines. It was very sad seeing the jubilant news of Barack Obama's election in 2008 at the top of the stack on the floor of the van.
I have given away hundreds of my books over the past years, first the disintegrating paperbacks, then the outdated nonfiction, then the novels I didn't enjoy that much, and finally all that I don't plan to read again, or fail to admire with a five star rating. It was hard, and I could do it only by not thinking about it too much (spark joy Marie Kondo style, perhaps?), but it is stimulating to see only the books that matter most when I look at my shelves (there are still plenty, and now I'm trying to be a lot more discerning in purchasing ebooks).
Our basement laundry room is also a storage room, and I see what's on those shelves, which have been culled several times over the years, without noticing any particular items. But today my gaze fell on three gallon size ice cream pails taking up prime space on a shelf within easy reach. They're perfect for picking raspberries, strawberries, or children playing with water, or any other number of things. They're substantial, such handy buckets with their handles and lids.
But we no longer grow raspberries or strawberries, and if the grandchildren want to play with water, there are many other options. We haven't found a use for them for two years. Without a second thought, I bore those pails off to the recycling bin with a feeling of accomplishment.
After I did that, I remembered I should take out the trash, so I removed it from the kitchen. I went through the storage room with my plastic bag where, perhaps predictably, the large plastic bags we were issued one of the last times we skied the American Birkebeiner race found my attention (while you ski for hours, your belongings are transported to the finish line so you can change into dry, warm clothes). Completing that race several times in my mid and late fifties is one of the most important things I've ever done in terms of meeting a challenge I set for myself. How could I simply throw those bags away? Or use them for trash? They are badges of honor! It's energizing to remember skiing all those kilometers through the Chequamegon Forest, not an oppressive weight!
|I'm sure some other items on these shelves will show up in future posts.|
I moved them upstairs to live with the roll of kitchen trash bags, awaiting their turn to hold our garbage. Okay, I'll come clean: I will move them there after I finish this post. It just takes a little time and processing to say goodbye.