This past summer I spent a week packing boxes with dear friends of mine moving back East from the West Coast. We made many trips to used bookstores, donation centers, and the dumpster. We wrapped their lives up into 11 categories—little compartments of 49 years of marriage rolled into newspapers, bubble wrap, and cardboard.
Waiting to be opened on the other side of a house sale and cross-country move, each box was evidence of life well-lived—together, real, and raw—caught within memories, fondly received presents, mementos from vacations, mugs for special occasions, and dated photographs. A mere song on the radio triggered a reflective wave of “remember when.”
We laughed ourselves silly going through shelves of books at 2 AM—how difficult it was to part with those pages from scattered memories and loved ones over five decades. We sobbed over discovered treasures from their childhoods. While not always easy, life had been good to them. I could see the value placed in considering each piece of it.
So, I asked myself:
How do we pack a lifetime into one 12 inch x 12 inch x 12 inch square at a time?
And the overall decision awaiting us as we dragged packing materials into each room?
Keep, donate, or throw out?
My friend, the wife, had so much courage, incredible stamina, and amazing strength as she divided her life into categories and choices. How do you take a 49 year marriage and family life and split it into thirds? How do you give away your life? How do you decide what to save and what to let go of?
I don’t know, but as I watched her do it, I knew deep within me that it is something we must all do. Self-reflection and life sorting is not only healthy, but it also opens space.
Sometimes we can’t move on from a chapter of our lives into the next one until we’ve given it away—heart, mind, and soul.
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) October 14, 2016
I had to move into a new chapter recently, one I really didn’t want: Read the rest of this entry »