So this past weekend I went off to NY for a whirlwind trip. I took a red-eye Friday night, arrived at 6am, and didn't stop hitting the pavement until I got to the airport on Monday evening.
What was my business? Had to retrieve some boxes from my past life, go through them and ship back to Seattle anything I wanted to keep.
I easily throw away the first group--expired toiletries, broken decoratives that I had used in my Brooklyn apartment, three-quarters burned out candles, shoes that the Salvation Army wouldn't salvage. Then came tougher stuff--papers from law school that I won't let go of because I over-value my intellectual property. Photos of people who I could not identify but hesitated to get rid of, because isn't it bad karma to throw away someone's photo? Then came gems--heartfelt cards my mother sent me in college for my birthday and Valentines Day; old love letters; poetry written on napkins from 1999, 2003, 2006; journals.
I felt like I had accomplished a great task when I was able to reduce 4 and a half large boxes down to three small ones, giving one great box of things to Salvation Army and another box of linens and dishes to my friend who housed my stuff for free in his attic for almost two years, and throwing away another large box of stuff.
With the loss of my parents I have been faced with the task of throwing away their stuff as well--something which, almost 8 years since losing my mom and 2 years since my dad died, I still have yet to complete. I often wonder whether something I consider trash is something they would never have consented to being thrown away. What does it mean to throw away, recycle, give away, and sell things that were once part of you? Why do we let things become such a part of us? And how do these same things eventually transition into discardables?
These and other random thoughts passed through my mind as I sat in my friend's dusty attic, sneezing incessantly, sifting through all sorts of things like pictures from my childhood, framed degrees, old papers and books from school and work, old jewelry and knicknacks, etc.
When the stuff I've shipped from New York arrives in Seattle, I wonder if I'll throw away anything else? Oh, life. Maybe. I'm on a minimalist kick. I need less baggage!
One thing I don't think I'll ever willingly throw away is my stuffed camel, Chosun. He's no teddy bear. He's unique and thoughtful. He's got more substance than a mere bear. He's been with me for 28 years. He's here to stay. Which is good to know.