It was a dreary, overcast morning when I went to collect the remainder of my personal belongings from what used to be my home. I had a hand in every square inch of that house as it was being built. I selected every single doorknob, cabinet, faucet, light fixture, & even the hinges. Due to my job as a real estate agent, I was able to negotiate lower prices or premium upgrades with many vendors. I literally went by there each & every day while it was under construction, & walked through every single room, even before there were walls, & prayed that many happy memories would be made there. I poured my heart & soul into it. However, in the end, it was just a “thing.”
Poring over the remaining stuff I had left behind from the many trips I’d already made to move out, I realized that there is a lot of “stuff” that we cling to, much of it unnecessarily. For instance, why did I keep all of those audiocassette tapes, when today I have access to a huge variety of music via Pandora, Spotify, ITunes, etc. which I can listen to over a much higher quality Bose sound system that far surpasses the old cassette tape decks? I decided to finally let go of them. Likewise, why on earth did I still have copies of projects such as Nursery Committee Rules & Regulations that I had formulated MANY years prior? Something else for the trash can, I decided! Toys that have not seen the light of day in over a decade littered the bottom of the rec room closet floor. Some I kept, but some I discarded. Clothes that will probably be in style again one day, but which I will probably never be able to fit into again went into plastic bags for charity. Clippings of poetry & inspirational quotes also landed in File 13 – after all, they are all available online via the touch of a button now. Yes, we tend to cling to things in our lives for a variety of reasons – some we think we will need again one day, but we never do; some we keep close at hand because they are a reminder of a proud accomplishment, although keeping them does not magnify the memory; & yet others we hold tightly to because the cost to obtain them was once high, & we do not realize that the cost to hold on to them is even higher. Letting go was a cathartic procedure. Painful & healing all at once. It’s all just “stuff”, anyhow.
At one point as I was loading up my vehicle, the most beautiful pair of blue jays began frolicking in close proximity to me. I used to sit out on the back porch with my morning coffee & enjoy the various birds – jays, cardinals, wrens, finches, sparrows, swallows, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, mockingbirds & more – & contemplate on the life lessons I could pull from their behaviors & mannerisms. The cardinals’ steadfastness & blue jays’ persistence made exceptional impressions on me as I navigated my way through my rocky divorce. I am saddened by the absence of these feathered creatures now, because my new place has a concrete patio with no trees for a back yard. I am going to paint my old bird bath/birdfeeder in hopes that it will attract some of these little friends. Meanwhile, I have missed their presence in my daily life. I was delighted to find a brightly colored garden flag with one of each on it, & I placed it in the flower bed of my new front lawn to remind me of the lessons that I learned through birdwatching, a hobby I never thought I would have a taste to do. But it’s just not the same as seeing live birds flitting to & fro, fighting & playing with one another.
I stood in what was about to be my former back yard, & watched as almost every species of bird I named above flitted about in the trees behind the house. As I teared up reminiscing about my times sitting enjoying the wildlife that emanated from these woods, Lucky the cat sauntered up. I sat down on the splintered, faded old wooden swing (another favorite item I was leaving behind) to greet him, a spot where the two of us had communed many times in the past. As if he had not noticed that I had been gone for nearly a month, he stretched out lazily across my lap, & began to purr. That was the hardest part, I do believe. Saying good-bye to what used to be my pet. I was so very thankful that the neighbor adopted him, & that I did not have to worry about him getting run over on the busy street near my new place. But I felt like such a traitor to him at that moment. Even though I know it is in his best interests to remain there, the only home he has ever known, where he is free to roam the woods like he has always done, I still felt a twinge of disloyalty, & a great sadness.
After loving on him for a bit, I went back to the task at hand, reminding myself that I no longer needed the discarded items, that birds fly in other places other than beside that house, & that the cat will be better off. After all, it’s all just “stuff”, anyhow, right?
I was struck by the things I no longer owned, some of which were a necessity, & some which were just luxuries. I no longer own a fire extinguisher, a sleeping bag, a cooler, a set of TV trays, a swing, patio chair cushions, or a riding lawn mower. I made a mental note to myself to try to get a fire extinguisher as soon as possible. The other “stuff” can wait.
I then had to relinquish my key & say a final good-bye to the house itself. I thought it would be more difficult. I thought I would break down as I drove away. I thought that I would be devastated. But as I pulled out of the driveway, the sun broke through the clouds for the first time that morning, & a great peace overcame me. It was all just “stuff”, anyhow, & I’d already mourned, over the past 5 years or so, the important things that this life transition caused me to lose. The sunshine warming my face on my drive away from, & yet also my drive to my “home”, spoke to me of brighter days ahead.
As I was sitting out on my new patio writing these words, suddenly I heard birds twittering nearby. I got up & went around behind my garage to see, & sure enough, there were a couple of blue jays tweeting there, perhaps trying to tell me that persistence pays! As I turned to walk back into my house, I spied the little stained glass bird that the previous resident had left behind. Tied to a string attached to the metal lattice piece that is designed to grow plants, floats a solitary little blue bird. I recalled seeing it the day I first viewed the place, & again on the day that I moved in. I took it to be an omen of good things ahead. After all, the blue bird is a symbol of HAPPINESS.
I may have left behind many significant & insignificant things of my former life, but I took with me the most important things: my dignity, self respect, faith, heart, soul, memories, & lessons learned. I took with me my hope for the future. I think I hear my new little blue bird tweeting that no one can take away my happiness, as it goes where I go. May yours go with you, as well. The rest is all just “stuff”, anyhow.