Who knew that throwing away my dad's expired vitamins in the back of the cupboard would send me deep into contemplation?
A few weeks ago, to make room for new roommates I undertook the fantastic task of cleaning out the kitchen cabinets to clear the way for new stuff. For those who don't know, I live in my childhood house. I moved in when my dad was very ill and he shortly thereafter passed away. That was going on two years ago and I haven't moved out since, although I plan to move out in the Fall. It's weird because it's always been my house, but now it's like, my house. All that to say, because there was never any true cleaning out and filling up of the space, a lot of stuff has stayed the same since Dad passed away. So when the new roomies came there was a need to make room for the new.
So I'm cleaning out the kitchen cabinets and I find all kinds of goodies--expired prune juice, glutinous pancake mix from 2005 (seriously, that's dangerous. Google it), old vitamin supplements--stuff, stuff, stuff. And it felt so good to throw the stuff away. (It also felt quite wasteful. I took care to compost and recycle what I could. But I just couldn't help but feel a little guilty about all these products that were purchased and never used.) And because it was just food it wasn't really an emotional experience. (To contrast, I won't even begin to write about cleaning out my dad's closet. I still have half of his sweatshirts and t-shirts. I still have some of his size 10 men's shoes. Oh boy.) No, instead it was just... interesting. To think about the "stuff" stuff that we leave behind, the truly unsentimental things that nevertheless are a sign that we were once here... interesting.
But I am now inspired to minimize, minimize, minimize, so I can have plenty of room for things that matter like relationships, activities and issues that inspire me, dreaming about Possibility, refining and revising my own boundaries, etc. And that I really mean, not in a mushy fluffy way, but in the real sense that when you feel like you've got too much stuff you don't feel like you're able to get up and move to where you need to go when you need to go there. I'd be screwed if I had to move to Central America in 3 weeks (but not if I had to do it in 3 months... see above where I said I am now inspired to minimize).
Now to take it to the pie in the sky existential place I somehow always find a way to visit no matter how mundane or simple the issue. The experience of cleaning out the cabinet set me off thinking about letting go. When do you let go of things, and when do you ignore the expiration date and stretch it out? What things in our lives simply don't have an expiration date and will always be in our shelf, maybe in the shelves of our heirs after we pass away?
They better be more important than some old prune juice, I tell ya that.