Today, I was back in my studio determined to give it another go. I pulled out a small box of papers – you know, the kind of stuff mixed media artists collect – small images, bits of color and pattern, quotes, and other bits of ephemera that might be useful somewhere, sometime. Talk about micro-managing. I’m hip-deep in unmade decisions regarding canvases and half-finished works and I’m sorting through bits of paper that are inspiring new projects.
Anyway, about that time I heard the roaring rumble of the trash truck pulling around in our cul-de-sac. I stepped to the window and watched. Watched as the two guys labored tossing my five extra trash bags (as allowed by our trash service) into the pit of the truck and then attached our giant can full of debris onto the ramp and dumped it in with the rest of my discards. Watched as the mechanism smashed it and compacted it with the rest of my neighbors trash. Thought about my next door neighbors tiny little bag of trash. Thought about how much I was sending to the landfill. Knowing that I had recycled and donated what I could and there was still so much…
So much stuff. So many regrets. Wondering what the trash guys thought of me and my piles of bags each week.
I watched as they drove away with the stuff I had thrown away and the emotions that trailed behind them – sadness, regret, anxiety, fear, loss.
And stood there with the remnants of those emotions, but mainly with a feeling of relief, pride, and a sense of accomplishment. And felt so much lighter.
It’s all well and good to proclaim that it’s just stuff – that we are not our belongings, but…
for a lot of us, the stuff is just a symptom of past trauma and abuse. It’s the way we coped with things we didn’t understand and couldn’t deal with. The decluttering effort is therapy. There is no quick solution. It’s laborious and difficult and challenging. It’s tears and anger, sorrow and grieving.
But, today as I was watching that big truck pull out of sight around the corner…those five bags transformed into “just stuff” as I finally let them go.