I’ve been reading the blog More With Less and thinking about freedom. The kind of freedom that comes with simplicity, with letting go of things. Physical things, like belongings; financial things, like debt and credit cards; and emotional things, like relationships that are toxic or limiting.
Simplicity, for some people, is relatively easy. I used to work with a guy who sold or gave away nearly everything he owned and moved across the country with only what fit in the back of his pickup truck. After that experience, he just didn't have a desire to collect stuff the way he used to. I have read about people who practice extreme simplicity, such as only owning 100 things, or only what will fit in a backpack.
I admire people who do things like that but I am not one of them. I'm far closer to the other extreme. Not a hoarder, but a collector of stuff. Far more stuff than I knew was useful or than I believed was beautiful (to quote William Morris). I lived alone for several years in a three-bedroom house and every room had stuff in it. The excess of it disgusted me - how could one person need so much stuff? But at that time I just didn't know where to start with it. So many of the things I owned had emotional weight to them. They were given to me by people no longer in my life, or represented a life I wished that I was living or that I had lived before and hadn't quite let go of yet.
I knew letting go would feel freeing, so why did I hold on so tight? My stuff felt like a weight that was leashing me to my past. I was being dragged down by things I no longer wanted. By possessions that carried stories about who I was that were no longer relevant. I was holding on to straggling pieces of lives I was no longer living. Even though I wanted to be free of all that I was also scared to sever the tether. Letting go of who I was without knowing who I was becoming was terrifying.
Having a child was a powerful catalyst in my life. Since The Bean entered the world it has become so much easier to release my old lives. There is now a dividing line between who I was and who I now am. It is easier to visualize what I might find time for in my life, now or in the future, and easier to identify what simply does not fit.
Many of the things that used to feel so heavy with memories have suddenly become just objects with no particular emotional weight. I have given away long lists of things through my local Freecycle list and dropped of several car trunk loads at Goodwill. There are still a few items that I'd really like to let go of but I haven't yet found homes for, but this weekend I said goodbye to something that felt huge.
I sold my motorcycle.
I loved that bike at one time, but I have not ridden it in probably 10 years. It has been sitting in the middle of my garage, taking up a considerable amount of space and slowly leaking fluids and dropping pieces of disintegrating plastic on the floor. I cannot see myself ever wanting to ride a motorcycle again. But it took me years to be willing to let go of the physical proof that once I was someone who rode a motorcycle. Recently I realized that just didn't matter to me any more.
I sold it for a laughably low price to someone who intends to replace the high mileage engine (if I'm calculating the mileage right, I put over 20K miles on that bike!), fix up the body and resell it. I hope he does. It was a really fun ride and it makes me very happy to know that someone else might get a chance to ride it and love it again.
I just no longer need that to be me.