“Somewhere there is a place that will change my life. It’s physical beauty will shock me into seeing my world in a wholly new way. The lives of the people there will be so sharply different from mine that they will be a mirror to me, and in that mirror I will see all my faults and fears, and gather the courage to eradicate them. This place will be so untouched by my civilization that I will be renewed just by coming to know it. To visit it will be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, a necessary adventure of the soul…”
~ Charles Monaghan, “A South Seas Adventure.”
In an effort to reach this soft place in my heart that yearns to live in a different culture, under a warmer sun, a life with minutes that seem to pause and stretch and last a little longer than the minutes here in North America, I have spent the last few months letting go.
The release started simply enough. The clothes in my closet that didn’t get as much mileage as others, pictures in boxes that hadn’t hung on any walls for months, and jewelry and kitchenware all gathering dust. Then, I began to get a sense of my attachment to the material when it came time to release items associated with precious memories: gifts given to me by people dear to me, t-shirts and letters from old loves, souvenirs from life-changing moments. The commercial below seemed to mock my efforts, proclaiming that “you are your stuff,” so you’d better protect what you’ve got. After all, once you let go of your stuff, what identity can you claim?
In yoga, Patanjali speaks about the Yamas and Niyamas, simple rules designed to address the basic human condition, and assist us in living a happy, healthy, and holy life. I’ve often felt my life swing like a pendulum from focusing on one or two of these rules to another. Facing down the task of condensing all my belongings down to just a few, I strongly felt that my life was emodying Aparigraha, non-grasping and Santosha, finding contentment in simple living.
As my leave date began to gather steam and approach faster and faster, I found myself letting go of items that were closer and closer to my heart. I often had to reassure myself that life would go on without my favorite sweater, I would continue to find happiness without the beautiful art on my walls, and I was not a lesser person for having let go of my favorite books. In fact, as I’ve simplified my life more and more, I’ve found a sense of peace in letting go of even the few items I’ve chosen to take on this journey.
I’ve also been blessed to hear people’s stories about their own struggles in letting go of their stuff and heard about the abundance that comes from trusting in the universe.
Because, at the end of the day, that’s really what this is a story about: trust. I’m trusting that I will be taken care of by the universe. I can look back over my life and see moments of uncertainty, or foolish certainty, when I was unsure of my next step. In each important moment of my life, I can see the way events and people collided to push me onto the path I needed to be walking. And looking back over the fabulous items that have already passed through my hands, I feel not one ounce of regret for letting anything go, for passing on favorite books and clothing like I share recipes.