by Mary Oliver
When I moved from one house to another
there were many things I had no room
for. What does one do? I rented a storage
space. And filled it. Years passed.
Occasionally I went there and looked in,
but nothing happened, not a single
twinge of the heart.
As I grew older the things I cared
about grew fewer, but were more
important. So one day I undid the lock
and called the trash man. He took
I felt like the little donkey when
his burden is finally lifted. Things!
Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful
fire! More room in your heart for love,
for the trees! For the birds who own
nothing--the reason they can fly.
I have just moved again and this time brought the long over due task of finally going through the many boxes of stuff from my storage unit. No longer could I go unconscious by shoving things I didn’t know what to do with, in a storage unit that I paid rent for.
And so the revelatory process of going through boxes to see what once seemed so important to hang onto, has come. I am finding that so many things have no value anymore but I feel an excruciating anxiety over what to do with them when they cannot be given away nor recycled. For many days I found myself troubled by the question of how to be an environmentally wise citizen of the planet when this stuff had to go somewhere. Had I stored things simply to avoid the feeling of guilt and the horror in adding them to the already too huge landfills of the world? Julie Butterfly Hill’s voice arose in my mind tirelessly when I thought to throw things away….”where is away?”
I am still deep in boxes and the process is slowly becoming a meditation. Not unlike my mind, overfull at times with thoughts and grasping, and discomfort, my little shed here at my new home in Arizona, is overfull with things I once held as sacred or beautiful or meaningful…or useful. I held tight to these things in a fearful scarcity mentality…my girl scout self thought I should be prepared with these things for one day, I might need them! Now I dig deep to find the prayer of letting go and trusting more. I can let go of these thoughts…I can open my hands to these once important items, and let them go on…allow a flowing…a surrender of what has held me.
Yesterday ten boxes went to the goodwill and I felt a joyous release there. The price has not only been in dollars to hold onto these things, the cost has been a weight of overcrowded rooms of responsibility. A new way of breathing is being introduced now and my lungs are finding new capacities! This process, nowhere near completion, is my work now. Daily I open boxes and arrange the contents towards new destinations. Daily I sit with my opened mind and allow what is not needed, to be released.
One misty morning last week after a delicious soft rain that fell through the night my dear friend and I walked with our dogs in the desert hills. Not three minutes down the path my dog sniffed a freshly shed large golden deer antler. Delisa said “I think this is for you, jade, for your new home.”
I smiled in awe and received it. At the far end of our walk in the dry creek bed, I spied a second antler, nearly the same size and it was so freshly let go of that blood still clung to the raw sharp boney site of attachment. I handed it to Delisa. Both of us had just said goodbye to huge parts of our lives, saying yes to change in a radical act of faith in the power of letting go.
With eyes wet to the generosity of the wild world’s mirror, we clicked antlers in a toast to the power of letting go of that which has been useful, beautiful and instrumental in giving us life in our worlds… now trusting that new aspects of our Selves will grow in their place and we will wear them proudly!