My great grandmother bequeathed her set of pink floral china to my sister. She died when my sister was a young teenager and I am pretty sure assumed that one day my sister would find that the china set fit perfectly with her lifestyle.
Or maybe she didn’t think that far ahead at all. She just wanted to give it away to someone she loved, who would appreciate the gesture.
It is a wonderful gesture, and a beautiful set.
And it is currently sitting in a box in my parent’s basement.
I am telling you this not to illustrate that my sister doesn’t appreciate the gesture. She does. It is more so to illustrate how we all fall into the trap of keeping things based on who gave it to us. And label things in such a way that makes it even harder to see past someone else’s good intentions in passing them along.
In fact, the words we use to describe things as rare, expensive, “collectible”, affect negatively our ability to determine if it has worth in our life now.
We pay no mind to the present and instead keep things because letting go a “rare collectible”, sounds, well…crazy.
It is not crazy. It is honoring who you are and how you want to live your life. The goal is not to keep things because they are rare, or because your uncle gave it to you. The goal is to keep things that are liked, needed, and used. Things that make sense for your life – now.
If you confuse something meaningful with useful, or even liked you will be cluttered. And stuck.
In the case of my great grandmother’s china, it has great meaning but absolutely no use for my sister.
It might never have fit into my sister’s life. And here is the truth Ruth: letting go has no bearing on whether my sister loved our great grandmother, or whether my great grandmother loved my sister. That china set does not represent the relationship. And certainly does not depict how good or kind or selfless either person is or was.
The china set is simply something beautiful that has no use.
You might hear that think it harsh. But if you listen hard you, too, can hear where there is meaning in that statement.
If you know something has no use, you must pay attention. That is special insight necessary in determining what you really need in your life. That intel is where all kinds of meaning can be found.
It can be really hard to listen to that insight when you think letting go will paint you as an uncaring crazy person who doesn’t understand the value of “rare” or “collectible”.
Or when all you can picture is your great grandmother and how much you loved her. That thought process and picture are powerful and has ways of infiltrating your mind and pulling you away from what you know is true:
You don’t need a old, and broken clock. Or hand-knit sweater. Or a bone china set that you will never use.
What you do need is space. And clarity.
And not an ounce of guilt attached to letting go.
You need that because when you let go of the unused and unnecessary, you create physical and mental space. And that combination is a powerful and dynamic duo to help you create the life you want to live.
The person who gave you the fancy china set (or insert any “heirloom” you are holding onto) likely would not want anything to get in the way of that creation.
In fact – and you must remember this – the item itself is not the person who gave it to you.
It is simply a physical entity that reminds you of that person. And if it is sitting in a basement, or cluttering a space making you feel overwhelmed, or perhaps worse – guilty – your remembrance is tarnished. And not so clear.
Here is the good news. If you aren’t planning on setting a table like this…
…when you donate that box in the basement, someone who will set a table like that gets the chance.
When you know deep inside that you don’t like, need, or won’t use any item – regardless of who gave it to you or how it came into your space – and you honor that knowing – you get on the path to creating space, and therefore meaning in your own life.
And that is the real treasure.