I am not my job. I am not how much money I have in the bank. I am not the car I drive. I am not the contents of my wallet. I am not my fucking khakis. I am not the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.
(paraphrased from a movie we don’t talk about)
Three boxes of books and five bags of clothes given to charity, four bags of assorted rubbish taken to the dump, one bookcase, one box of assorted drinking glasses, and a few lamps gone, and soon to be added to the list of outgoing items are two chests of drawers and a chair bed (sale pending).
It’s embarrassing. Not just the volume but how easily discarded. Shameful.
It’s also harder than I had considered when I set out; clearing through drawers and long closed boxes, finding letters and notes from the past, memories ripped anew. Fresh wounds lightly salted.
It’s also false picture of reality. I am not defined by my possessions, even if it seems that way at the moment, but I feel overwhelmed and confounded by how little so many of these things mean to me. Yet the more I clear, the more determined I become. The things I have will not own me. I am not Jack’s wasted life.
I reckon I’m about a third of the way through this process so there is still a way to go before I’ll be ‘finished’. At least finished enough for the upcoming move, if not finished enough to fully move on it seems.
It’s not just about ‘getting rid’ and I find I’m as horrified by the quantity of things I possess as I am fascinated by what they seem to represent. There is a delight at re-discovering items that have lain dormant in a drawer or on a shelf for too many years, and at times a deep melancholy for those who are no longer part of my life.
I know this is all down to the choices I’ve made, the way I live my life, and all the consequences I have wrought. I am not special in this respect (or in any respect) but it turns out that decluttering your possessions also means decluttering your emotions and finding what you truly value, what you truly need in your life. Yes, I know. There are books about this stuff but I’m finding the doing more effective than the reading.
It’s also tiring. The ‘what ifs’ are writ large in every lost note recovered, every photo found hidden in the crease of a book, every decision to keep an item, or to throw it away. It is cathartic and exhausting. It feels like it has worth, that what I am doing is more valuable to me than any monetary value I could place on the items I am considering, that the act of consideration is a better investment than the physical object itself.
Ultimately, factually, this is all about moving to a smaller/cheaper place. What I’m realising is that it’s a larger change of self than I had anticipated. A change that is wholly welcomed, warts and all. Perhaps I am giving the process too much weight but it’s hard not to when the entire lesson seems to circle back to me and my sense of self.
I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.
Also published on Medium.