Learning to let go

28 October 2014
I wrote in my last post that my hiatus was busy but sadly not as productive as I had planned. A dose of illness was mixed in leaving me with plans that went astray. It is nice to be back on the blog, writing about my eco journey. I was afforded some time to do a spring clean. I slowly piled up items that we don't use and have two or three of (like three cheese graters?!) and took them to our local Op shop. There were two items that I kept picking up and putting down again. I would stand and stare at them, knowing too tell they had to go but I couldn't figure out why I could not shake them off.

What was even more baffling is that both items were broken. Unable to be used. They sat on a shelf above my desk. One of the items had been broken for two and a half years.

Learning to let go

The first item that sat in pieces was a mug that I had bought when I moved to England. I had just arrived in London, my life packed up in a suitcase. I was staying at a friends place, sleeping on their kitchen floor (they were in a small studio room in Stockwell). After two weeks of applying for jobs and rooms to rent I decided to go and explore the country I had moved to. The jobs and room could wait. It was a bitter and cold winter morning in January when I jumped on a train to Salisbury. I had only intended to go for the weekend but this turned into an adventure that took me down to St. Ives on the Cornwall Coast. I visited a variety of small towns along the way, marvelled at Tintagle, watched the surfers in Torquay, ate fish and chips in Penzance and then settled into St. Ives for a week renting a room above a pub. I was on my own, free to wander and do as a pleased. It was bliss.

St. Ives has a rich art history and it was here that I discovered the Bernard Leach pottery house. I visited often during the week talking with the local potters and learning more about the area. So before I returned to London, I decided to take Bernard Leach mug as a momentum of the wonderful two weeks I had.

I have had this mug with me since. It was my special mug. Never went into a dishwasher. Usually sat on my bedside table. It was not special because it was a Bernard Leach design. It was special because I attached sentimental feelings to it. So when I dropped it one night in the bathroom as I went to fill it up with water, I was close to tears. It was a bit silly in retrospect. I have many wonderful memories of that trip that could be conjured up, and continue to be, without the need of a mug.

The other broken item that I could not bring myself to part with was also a souvenir. They were two decorative wall hanging plates, part of a 12 piece set. According to my Danish friends they are the kind of thing you would see at your grandmothers house...a bit daggy and not very trendy. But I liked them. They told the story of a woman and a man falling in love, each plate showing a month of the year. I bought them at a garage sale while enjoying a Saturday drive around Southern Denmark near Ondense. Anyway two broke on the move back to Australia (I did not pack them very well..). During the whole two years I was in London, these hanging plates never hung on a wall and when I got back to Australia three years ago, they sat in a box until early this year.

Learning to let go

Learning to let go

I wanted to get the two broken plates fixed but new it would not be a easy fix with some small parts missing. If they hung on a wall my eyes would focus on the imperfection. And part of me did not want to throw them out because then I would not have a complete set. Only I would know that. I doubt the Builder or any of my friends would know March and December were missing unless they were experts in Danish decorative art from the 1960s. The photo above is of me at the garage sale. I had just cut all my hair off and looking very Fraulein Maria. I do not need the plates or even the photo. The memory is fully intact.

I was able to move pass the sentimental attachment and instead have decided to break up the pieces and use them as drainage in pot plants. Unfortunately I have not been able to locate somewhere to recycle pottery so this was the best solution. Either way hanging onto them as they were was not productive and now they are being productive.

This somewhat idiotic process taught me that I need to not attach sentimental feelings to items. The world will keep turning without the mug – I have a cupboard full of mugs that work just as well. The plates will look nice on our wall if two are missing. I have written before about the need to value our stuff. But sometimes our things break by accident. If they are worth fixing I will fix them. But holding onto them, hoping that they might be fixed when they cannot, does not serve me. If they have been sitting there untouched for over two years then it is a sign to pass it on and give it another life.

Perhaps being able to let go is the key to a simple life and wanting less stuff.

Congratulations you made it this far. I promise the next blog post won't be as wordy. Tell me, do you find it easy to let go? Are you a big souvenir collector?
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