As I write this, I’m sitting in my garage, bundled up against the freezing air (springtime in the mountains is capricious), waiting for more neighbors to stop by and browse through my junk. In other words, I’m having a garage sale, also known as a yard sale, tag sale, rummage sale or flea market; an opportunity for my clutter to become someone else’s treasure. Part of me wonders why on earth I’m putting myself through this freezing torment just to make a few dollars; another part of me is having great fun with it! If nothing else, it’s an interesting way to examine and (hopefully) let go of the past.
But oh, everything means something to me. The little glass-top table over there… a friend gave it to me years ago. It’s not really my style anymore, but it makes me think of her. This box of toys… I would bring them out every few months when my kids came to visit, but now that they are with me, I no longer need the reminder of how much I missed them. The rolled-up rug waiting for a new home reminds me of when a relationship was exciting and new… we picked it out together and loved it. And then, well, things changed. The pretty dress a friend of mine wore for her wedding years ago… what sentimental value it must have held, until it was time to simplify and the old things stopped being so important.
Wall art that used to make me happy has now gone on to cheer someone else’s home. The porch swing… purchased as a joyful declaration of abundance and a resting spot for so many friends, now doesn’t seem so special anymore (especially after the squirrels got to it over winter). There’s even a box of free stuff, little things from all over the house that I kept… because surely they’ll be useful one day! How many years should go by without touching something before I can let it go?
I could tell a story about every single item in this space. But, for reasons as diverse as the objects, I’m ready to let each one go. And it’s a process that’s giving me a new perspective on life, particularly the past.
How often do we hold onto things and situations that no longer serve us, because they seem too important to let go? Or because they might be useful again someday? Or because we don’t want to forget their former glory and what they meant? Or simply because we don’t yet have anything to replace them with? In part, this sort of “hoarding” might be a residual effect of growing up poor, because you learn to scrimp and save and scrounge for what you need. But that’s not all there is to it, for I’ve seen many people unable to let go even though they didn’t grow up poor. It’s a ‘holding on’ that applies far beyond material possessions.
For instance, even though a situation has run its course, do I hang on because I’m afraid nothing else will ever replace it? Like that scarf that’s so beautiful, but hasn’t suited me for 20 years, can I finally allow that part of my life to be over? What is it that keeps us holding on to things that lost their usefulness – or just stopped bringing us joy – ages ago? Strange how it can be so difficult to release the past, or even things that remind you of it. Almost as if letting something go dishonors the event or situation or person with whom it was associated. But does it? Maybe the greatest honor is acknowledging its significance, and internalizing the wisdom so much that the outer reminder is no longer needed.
Thinking about all this, I can really see why most people don’t remember past lives! Can you imagine the collections? All the nostalgia and mementos would practically be immobilizing. So, we start fresh each lifetime. But then the old habits and beliefs and tendencies inevitably kick in, as well as all the entanglements with other people, and there we are again, surrounded by the past and not even aware, thinking “This is just who I am and how things are.”
Here’s a thought: Maybe we can pick and choose the inner stuff to toss out as easily as we do the outer stuff. In fact, maybe these releases run concurrently, each supporting the other. If I want to move on from the past, what better way than to let go of things that remind me of it? If I want to get unstuck in some area of my life, the quickest way is to make a literal, tangible change that relates to it. Do I want a new kitchen? Start measuring and playing with different possibilities! Do I feel stuck and need to clear my brain? Literally take a few good deep breaths instead of just thinking about it! Do I want less clutter in my life and more space for something new? Go through the house, put a bunch of stuff in the garage, put out the signs and let people give me money to take it away! It’s brilliant… do something different, and different stuff happens!
As much of a hassle as this garage sale project has been – several weekends of cleaning, sorting and stickering followed by hours of sitting out in the cold – it’s also been pretty dang therapeutic. The house feels fresh and renewed, the energy has been stirred, and I have a little spending money.
Through all the sorting and choosing, something else was happening as well: appreciation. I would pick up an item, realize it was something I no longer wanted, remember the blessing it had been in my life, and say, “Thank you for your service. Goodbye.” It wasn’t some empty ritual; I truly felt gratitude along with the release. In fact, what a great way to approach everything in my life! Whether it’s a family member who doesn’t understand me or a chair that’s seen better days; a relationship that’s over or a beautiful shirt I just don’t wear anymore; someone who deceives me for their own purposes or too many towels in the closet – ALL of it has served me in some way. And when I can feel gratitude and honor as I let it go, then it is complete. No more loose ends to sort out next lifetime; less clutter to clog up my energy in this lifetime.
Letting go of the pretty little figurine that someone gave me doesn’t mean I don’t care; it means I’ve received the gift, accepted what I like from it, and moved on. Letting someone walk out of my life doesn’t mean I hate them; it means I have received the gifts they brought to me, and things are now complete.
And after the surrender, what then? Perhaps I’ll just enjoy the new empty space for a while. Perhaps something new will trickle in, something that suits me better in my Now. But no matter what, I won’t regret the letting go. As much as we want to hang on to what we loved, ultimately it will all go away and we’ll be left with only Self. Maybe if I practice with the small stuff, the big stuff won’t be quite so hard.
THE EASY BUTTON
One of the items in my garage sale was an Easy Button (it’s cool, but I don’t need two of ‘em). You push the big orange button and a cheerful voice says, “That was easy!” For years now, ever since Kuthumi talked about it, every Shaumbra I know has been looking for the Easy Button to life. People think the Easy Button is the human getting everything they want, when they want it, and keeping it forever. But over the years I’ve found that my personal Easy Button is non-resistance to what is. If I’ve brought a difficult situation into my life, the Easy Button is acceptance. If something I’ve loved is leaving my life, the Easy Button is allowing. If something no longer serves me, no matter how special it has been, the Easy Button is letting go.
Basically, the Easy Button is the “stop fighting” button, something the human self isn’t usually too thrilled about. So, if things in your life are hard and you’d like to hit the Easy Button, maybe it’s time to hold an internal rummage sale. That old resentment over something in the past can go live with the aspect who was there; I don’t need it anymore. The beliefs I’ve outgrown – about money, love, food, God, whatever – can go in the bin marked “Free.” I don’t care who takes them or if they go in the trash; I don’t want them anymore. Some of the patterns I’ve developed over the years are old and tattered now; best to let them go live with someone who wants them.
But what about the stuff I still love? Sometimes I don’t feel ready to let something go, but it does anyway... like that pretty glass shelf that just went crashing to the floor. Yet even then, underneath the annoyance of waste and loss, there’s still a gently glowing layer of relief. One less thing to hold onto and be responsible for. Amazing how freeing that feels… IF I don’t resist!
For those of us choosing this lifetime for our Realization, letting go seems to be at the core of our very existence. It’s inevitable, for ultimately, we return to Self with nothing but the wisdom. So we may as well have fun with it. The home, the love, the lifestyle, the friends, the everything we thought was permanent… well, it isn’t. And there’s nothing like a good rummage sale to remind us to let go.
The funny thing is, the more you let go of what was, the more space there is for the wonderful new to come in! You see, it isn’t about refusing all worldly possessions and pleasures; it’s about letting them flow through your life in total freedom. Then everything is available and nothing gets stuck. So, next time you see a rummage sale, let it remind you to press that Easy Button and just let go, for freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.