There are some elements to my psychology that are very much shaped by childhood experience. We regularly moved from place to place. Whilst I don’t regret the experience it gave me, one of its effects is that I learned how to make friends quickly, but didn’t learn how to maintain them. Friendships were transient, my energy directed towards adapting at new environments (this included taking on a southern English accent, an Irish accent and a Yorkshire accent, as need demanded).
Another effect of our transient residence is that I learned how to let go of things. There is a disadvantage to this: I didn’t have many momentoes of my life to share with my children. But I do have a capacity for storytelling, albeit limited, which perhaps can enrich lives in the same way a photograph can. Unfortunately, the demands of everyday life would get in the way of the kind of storytelling I would like to have shared with them. Now that I realise both its importance, and its loss from the so-called more-developed societies, perhaps it is something I can share with my grandson in future years? Things or stories? Stories bring magic to life, and a magical life is beautiful.
So, 3 months ago, I sold my house. I was moving into a situation where my belongings would not fit. Compared to many others, particularly my mother (now that’s a story for another day), I didn’t own so much, but it was too much. The person who bought the house was a first time buyer. The purchase would leave her unable to furnish it. We agreed in the sale that I would leave anything I did not want, and she would deal with the items she had no need of. It was a win-win situation, but I felt I’d given someone a start they wanted and needed. The altruism was itself reward (is it then altruism?).
My sale enforced ruthlessness. My possessions dwindled to what could be moved in a car (ok, a couple of cars). All those things that I thought I had worked hard for, gone. What I had not expected made itself apparent. I have never felt so spiritually uplifted since a meditational experience, about 20 years ago. I literally felt the weight of property ownership lift from my shoulders. So… all you hoarders out there, beware, the weight of your possessions will bury you before you return to the earth from whence you came!
P.S. I still retain possession of many of my books. Possessions I could not part with. Books – a constant friend in a transient life.
Image by Drew Coffman