Recently we watched a series of documentaries about the World Wars. One of the things that stood out for me was how people had to leave their belongings behind, or had them taken away from them. In the end, all they had and hung on for was their own lives and those of their loved ones.
Having recently moved to the United Kingdom, our family went through a comparatively much less traumatic process of having to leave our belongings behind. We took a hard look at our home of belongings and started to decide what didn’t belong anymore. At first this was really difficult. There were things that I’d look at and say: “I’m definitely not getting rid of that!” – only to look at that very same object again the following week and think: “I wonder how much I could get if I sold that?”… Then I’d find myself giving it away on the weekend that we actually moved. When we made our long journey over the seas, it was with only one large suitcase and one small one – having sold or given away all of our furniture, cars, appliances, linen and kitchen utensils.
In Buddhism they say that the cause of human suffering is attachment – to things, people, outcomes… That is so true. I read a quote on somebody’s fridge once: “I feel so much better now that I’ve given up.” It sounds quite negative, but you could replace the words “given up” with “let go”. Once you “let go” of the things, people and expectations that weigh you down, your spirit lightens and your vision clears. Try it.
When my Gran was in hospital dying, we went into her flat to start moving her things. She lived in a small bachelor flat in a retirement home. What struck me was how little she had left. She’d co-owned a large bakery with my grandfather many years before and they lived in a large house with their 7 children. Yes 7! At 79 years old, her life came down to 2 boxes in her top cupboard that contained photographs, letters and other memento’s of the years before. Those were the things of value – memories of loved ones.
As we come to the end of another year, my question is: “What will you take with you?” We always tend to focus on what our New Year’s resolutions are going to be, what we are going to achieve or do differently. This New Year why not start by letting go of all those things that you no longer need – old hurts, toxic thoughts, negativity? By letting go of these things that you no longer need, you now have space to create your ‘two boxes’ of good memories and things you are grateful for. These are the things that you can carry with you into the New Year. By doing this, your New Year is bound to be off to a good start.