A year ago I wrote a post for this blog about letting go of beloved possessions. We were preparing to move from the house in which we raised our children to an “independent living” apartment. Last month we made that move, and today I sit in our new apartment. Today I am experiencing the effects of “downsizing.” The aftermath.
We let go of a lot. Our goal was to bring with us only what was beloved and useful and would fit the space; we wanted to get the painful part behind us and not drag it out. So we sold and donated and gave away much of what we owned. And at the end, we closed our eyes and went out for coffee while Junkluggers removed and drove away with what was left, including the typewriter I bought with the proceeds of my first summer job (at $0.60 an hour!).
Today I think about that typewriter and what it meant to me, but I don’t miss having it. It’s an interesting difference. My memories and my history still surround me: I love to watch a random succession of family photographs on my computer; I have a cabinet of keepsakes; and my most loved books are on the shelves. But they do not take up much space. And, as a result, this new apartment feels open, not crowded. There is a sense of spaciousness, even though we have less space.
That spaciousness is a gift. It offers a sense of possibility. There is room to move, to expand, to grow. I can twirl with my arms out. What freedom! even with my arthritic knees. I wonder: were all those possessions tying me down? Constraining me? Were they a burden, even though I loved them?
And there is an inner spaciousness as well. I look out the window as I drink my tea and feel peaceful. There is a sense of accomplishment in decisions made, steps taken, a painful job completed. Now I am open to what is to come. There is space inside me for more: more learning, more friendship, more exploration, more love. There is space inside me for God to suggest and for me to hear – and respond.
This spaciousness is a gift.
I am grateful for it.
Dorothy Muller is a Chaplain at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and a Parish Associate at Bedford Presbyterian Church.