January 18, 2013

Attachment. ~ Jen McKelvie

National Library of Scotland

Or… Why do I have so much stuff?

As I begin the process of selecting things to get rid of or store, I am astonished to find it nearly impossible to part with my few remaining belongings. ‘I don’t wear this hat, but I got it from a friend in Vail, and I love it…’ and ‘I don’t have time to read this book, but I really want to!’ Even though I am just putting things in storage, I still feel like I am somehow giving up parts of myself.

I am totally shocked at my reluctance to let go of a pair of jeans and my electric tea kettle. I start to panic a little and begin to feel completely overwhelmed by the prospect of packing and moving my relatively few belongings. At the exact same moment that I am feeling overly attached to some face wash, I am also berating myself for being so spoiled. There are people with nothing, NOTHING! And here I am suffering a mini panic attack regarding which jackets to put into storage! I was (and am) ashamed of myself.

How can someone who has always been so unattached to things suddenly become obsessively dependent?  I took a step back and sat on my bed, surveying the gigantic mess I had made. I looked a my things, I thought about my things. And it occurred to me that for a year and a half, I have not had many personal belongings near me. I have one photo of my dad and I, my journal, some coral from a beach in Hong Kong and a blanket from Tibet. I have my phone to talk to my loved ones and my computer to keep me virtually connected. But I have been without the emotional grounding of special things for quite some time now. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. I miss my stuff. I miss that lino block series I made, and all the pictures my friends painted for me. I miss those awesome chairs I scoured the internet for and that cute tiny jar that a best friend gave me that holds cotton balls. I miss that silly sofa pillow I have, and that rusty railroad nail that I found on a hike way up in the Rockies. I miss coming home to my space with my things that have been carefully cultivated by me.

But moving five times in a year and a half tends to force you to down size. At first I was all for it. I would exclaim ‘I don’t need/ want/ have to keep this, that and those!’ as I tossed, stored and donated my belongings. But after so much time in fairly major life transitions, the feeling of being rootless (that I have always felt was an integral part of my nature) is taking a toll. The past year and half has been filled to the brim with life lessons, fun, stress and everything else there is, all of which I expected. But this realization, of wanting things around me, comes as a surprise.

Apparently, I am not as detached as I assumed I was. And maybe I am more emotionally invested in some of my things than I should be, or at least would like to admit. But I do know, at least, that once I get to open all those boxes stuffed full of things, I will be like a kid at Christmas. I will probably cry.

And then I bet you a million dollars I’ll be shocked by how much stuff I saved and get rid of half of it!


photo : jen mckelvie


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