Practice: Lightening my load

Today I got to do something wonderful, beautiful and exciting. I got to drive away from Goodwill with fewer things than I arrived with. It felt amazing. Let me explain.

I recently got married, and amidst the joy and laughter and tears and excitement and big wonderfulness, there came a lot of stuff. First it was just my stuff, which fit rather comfortably in the one bedroom apartment I moved to (when I realized the tiny basement apartment I shared during my first year of grad school was not big enough for the three of us). Then there was my then-fiance’s stuff, which he slowly moved over throughout our engagement so as not to overwhelm me. We fit that stuff in OK. Then we got married and there was all the rest of his stuff, which fit, in that “well, as long as we get one more bookcase, we’ll be fine” kind of way. And then there were the wedding presents. Which I ADORE, and do not fit.

(See? So precious! And here they are. This is not where they belong.)

For me, getting to a place of love for the wedding presents took some time (and this post). We struggled mightily over the wedding registry. That may be a post for another day, but suffice it to say that, were it not for the help of my wonderful sister, we probably wouldn’t have had one at all. I’m generally uncomfortable owning things (I know, it’s decidedly un-American of me). I have trouble taking good care of them. I move a lot, and then I have to move them. I have to clean them, keep them organized and remember to occasionally use them, so I don’t feel dumb for having them in the first place. I know, right? So challenging! My life is so difficult! Right. BUT, add to that the weight of the world I feel the need to carry on my shoulders, and the sinking feeling that I get sometimes that I simply have too much, when others in the world have so little, and I am usually ambivalent at best about most of my possessions.

The wedding gifts for me, though, are nothing short of pure love in object form: little reminders from everyone in our lives to say that they wish us all the best. So they can stay. Something else has to go.

In short, combining close quarters, wedding presents, and first-world guilt means that there is nothing like a trip to Goodwill in Rosie the Mini to make me feel like I’m on top of the world. Why yes, you may have all the twin bed sized sheets in my house! I can go through the world now as a person who is not hoarding sheets she does not need. I am a lighter, friendlier human when I remember that the things I have are only borrowed anyway, and there is simply nothing else in the world like setting them free to keep them from weighing me down. And there are more important things than stuff. Like love. Preach it, Sister Maya:

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” Maya Angelou

Amen.

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