All Things New

I’m thinking about moving, which is getting me to think about the things we throw away and the things we keep. And the things we keep that maybe don’t serve us.

For example, I feel like I could make a trip to the thrift store, a trip to the recycling, and a trip to the trash every day between now and when my house goes on the market (if it goes on the market) and I’d still have exponentially more random useless bits and bobs than I need. And just the oddest smattering of stuff, too— the full set of chairs from the dining room set I replaced two years ago. Bottles and boxes and jars and bits of broken things and parts and pieces. Things from a time and place where they seemed helpful and useful, but now they belong to something I gave or threw away years ago.

I think we do this on a life level, too. I know that I’ve been guilty of assuming that once I saw something from someone, it was always true of them. I remember a conversation with a therapist, who said, “well, have you told [family member] what you think?” and I said “no, you don’t know how it is in my family, that’s just not how we do it…” and she said “Are you sure? I mean, have you checked lately? Or is that old information?”

I said it was old information, but I was still sure. But then, out of curiosity, I checked. And the person didn’t react the way I’d predicted. It was an old script. And it’s happened to me several times since. Every time I test the theory, I have to incorporate new information, because we’re changing constantly, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, like it or not..

I heard the old saw about how every cell in our body gets replaced on a seven-year cycle. It’s easier to believe that people never change. But they do. We do.

This is not to say that we should pour infinite time and resources into people when they’ve hurt or disappointed us. But I’m convinced that if your information is more than a few years old, insofar as it can be done safely and reasonably, it might be worth looking at updating it.


6 thoughts on “All Things New

  1. My guideline for “clearing out”: If it has served no functional purpose in the past 2 years, and has no tangible sentimental value ………… get rid of it! Simple………. and it works! 🙂

    • My mom used to tell this story, when I was a kid, about how, if you were wasteful in life, you’d have to chase a bird through heaven, kill it with your bare hands and eat it, before they let you in. It made a big impression, so I’m always hedging my bets by holding onto something if I’m not sure. I’ve got at least two computers I’m holding onto because I’m not sure how to wipe the hard drives. Those dining room chairs that I was puzzling over? I totally remember, now, why I kept at least two of them (I’m keeping the table for which they are an appropriate height, even though I’m keeping it deconstructed and in the attic.) But I’m still going to get rid of them, and buy appropriate chairs if the need arises. And don’t get me started on sentimental value…

      • Understandably, many people who survived the great depression in the US, and went through the war years in the UK are hesitant to throw anything away because “it might come in useful.” This was great when items were in short supply and/or very expensive. Today, I simply look at the replacement value and ask myself “Is it worth taking up space with this for the next 5 -10 (or longer) years, when a better one will probably be available for a few $$$$? Another perspective is “If my kids have no interest in this, perhaps a charity shop would put it to good purpose rather than keeping it in the attic until I “move on”! 🙂

      • It’s true. My mom was post-Depression, but grew up relatively poor, and it made an impression on us both. I’ve come a long way as an adult, but still found myself last night sorting through an odds-and-ends catchall for spare change for a charity that’s asking for my spare change, making piles of foreign currency people brought me as a child (if someone gives you enough, you end up with a coin collection, whether or not it’s a real passion for you). Paperclips and Canadian coins and outdated currencies oh my! What does one do with Italian lire from the 80s?

    • I hope that time is all it takes. I know that some people won’t change enough to make it safe to re-engage. But (and this could totally be my Pollyanna thing) I’m a believer in at least checking in with people now and again, to see who they are. Not in a defensive “hey, are you ready to apologize yet?” way, but in a more neutral way. With people I love (and with whom it’s safe to do so), I try to leave a light on— a little bit of openness to healing, transformation, grace.

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