One of the reasons I started this blog was because I wanted to find a community of like-minded people. And as we are all unique and multi-layered human beings, we could connect on a variety of levels.
I thought minimalism was a good connecting point because it would put me in touch with people who have a particular slant toward life. (We could also connect through grandparenting, being 50-something, love of humor, love of God, you see, the possibilities are endless.)
And so I’m not trying to exclude anyone in the post, but I believe I’ve discovered something that needs to be mentioned for the benefit of those post-empty nest/pre-retirement people (and even older) who are choosing to declutter and embrace minimalism.
While minimalism can be practiced by everyone no matter how old they are, there is something unique that the 50+ people have to deal with. And no one told me about it, so I’m telling you now so you can be prepared. If you’ve already dealt with it then we can encourage each other.
The thing no one told me about was the emotional toll it takes on an older person to go through his/her stuff and decide what to do with it!
Let’s be honest, when a 50+ person decides to go through all their photos, videos, keepsakes, souvenirs and memorabilia there is a heck of a lot more stuff to go through than someone in their 20’s. And if you’re married and had kids, there’s probably even more stuff to go through! And this is all emotionally charged stuff!
This week I was in a funk and I just couldn’t shake it. And while I was into the 2nd day of going through the bin that I kept all my kids school work/art work that I deemed keepable back in the day (the photo above), I just had to quit. I was exhausted. And all I was doing was separating it into 2 piles: son & daughter. I laid on the couch and tried to shake the dark cloud that had come over me. That’s when I realized, I was emotionally exhausted. Again.
See, I had forgotten how hard it was to go through and scan and digitize all our old photos and videos. I spent weeks going through my ENTIRE LIFE! In seeing those pictures and videos I relieved all the emotion that I had felt when it happened. 50+ years is a lot of life!
That’s what’s been happening these past 2 days: I’m reliving my kid’s school years. It was wonderful! They were great! Wonderful students, both of them. Such fun to read their stories and see their drawings and find those precious cards and notes – BUT it’s emotionally taxing!
And I’m not even deciding what to do with it – I’m just going to take it to them so they can have a laugh going through it when they have time. Still it’s an emotional trip.
I’ve had a great life, full of wonderful memories and so the shadow that has come over me is not because I have regrets or sad memories, I think it’s because it was so great I wish I could go back and do it all over again.
So, remember, deciding to declutter and embrace minimalism DOES bring about a feeling of freedom and lightness, but you have to be brave enough to put the old, heavy coat of the past back on and clean out the pockets before you can discard it to live light and free. It’s gets a little heavy and a little hot but don’t let it keep you from doing it, just know that it happens.
Note to self: “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” ~Dr. Seuss