Monday, January 18, 2016

The Minimalist Guide to Burning Shit

One thing I had been holding onto as I went through the house purging of unwanted and unneeded stuff was several volumes of journals documenting the years I was with the little one's dad and ending sometime the year after he left us. At first I kept them to search for clues I should have picked up, but missed. Then, it was to form a timeline of events for court. I moved them from the bedside cabinet to a shelf high in my closet. Occasionally I'd leaf through one, but reading them just left me aching and angry all over again. So, they sat there on my closet shelf for months, collecting dust, too high up for me to reach easily.

But this is a year for change, for purging and letting go of all that garbage.

And it was still hard.

I began by ripping the pages loose from their binding into a big pile on my bedroom floor, setting aside the first volume from that very first year. I found the little charcoal grill and staged it on the picnic table outside, along with some matches. I fetched my pile of writings and sketches, crinkling them into balls and tossing them into the grill. Once I had a good pile, I started the fire. I felt almost giddy as I tossed page after page into the flames and watched them burn. Soon I had erased everything but that first year, the first volume, written on delicate pretty paper inlaid with leaves and flowers.

I took one last glance through its pages, sighed, and threw the whole journal into the fire before I could change my mind.

I don't know why it was hard to toss that first journal into the fire. It was full of lies, lies I told myself about how wonderful everything was. But, I suppose it was full of hope, too.

Why am I sharing this deeply personal story here? There is a process to simplifying one's life. First, you begin to see all the possessions you own that you don't need. You will discard old shirts, kitchen appliances you don't use, gifts that really weren't your thing but you were too guilty to get rid of, books you've never read but held onto for years. You will get really creative and toss all the bath products you don't use, candy you don't need to eat, copies of old bank statements. Then, when you have sifted through all of the obvious things that you can get rid of, you will come to the emotional baggage, the old love letters from your first crush, photos of friends who have moved on, and, if you are like me, journals full of stories of your life.

It is going to be a very personal decision for you to discard or keep. Listen to your heart, but be willing to let go of the past. If it doesn't feel right to toss it, hold on to it. You may change your mind one day, but if you don't that's ok. For me, it was time to move on. I'm done. As I told a close friend of mine, I don't need that crap in my life anymore.

Set it on fire. Burn that shit. Eat some chocolate and drink a glass of wine. Then move on. Because life is about moving forward. Besides, you don't need that crap in your life anymore either.