My wife and I are doing some summer cleaning this month, trying to get rid of some old stuff we’ve had for years. Right now we’re working on the big storage closet in the laundry room. It’s full of packratty things: old cancelled checks, bric-a-brac from her parents’ house and memorabilia from my college days. I even still have the corduroy bell-bottom jumpsuit I wore back in the 70’s.
“Does it still fit?”, you ask.
“Is the Pope Methodist?”, I answer.
Anyway, this closet has been filling up over the years until now it has finally begun to spill over into the laundry room. So something had to be done. Many of the things in there still have sentimental value, but a lot of it has lost it significance over the years. Much of it is just trash that should have been tossed out years ago.
I have a closet just like that in my mind. It’s piled up with boxes of memories from long ago. Things I should already have dealt with. Even let go of. But I’m not quite ready yet. It’s too hard to decide what to do with them right now, so I’ve stacked them up in the closet, shut the door and latched it tight so they don’t interfere with my otherwise perfectly wonderful life.
And there they sit.
Until one day, something happens that reminds me of a past injury. I try to let it roll off my back. But it won’t. Instead it keeps picking at the lock on the closet until it finally manages to pry open the door. And once it does, all that old loneliness, fear and insecurity I thought I had nicely under wraps comes tumbling out at my feet again. And it messes up my beautiful world.
I trip all over the strewn artifacts, frantically trying to punt, pass and kick them back into the closet. And sometimes they simply won’t go back in there. They just roll right back out and stare up at me from the floor until I do something about them.
So what is it that they want me to do? I can’t just leave them there on the carpet. Instead of trying to cram them back in the closet though, maybe I should carefully place them back on the shelves so they’ll stay put next time. Or maybe I should …
(Light bulb clicks on…)
Maybe I should take a moment to examine them. Decide once and for all whether to hold on to them, or let them go. After all, they do take up a lot of space. And I could be using that space to store creative new ideas, instead of the crumbling decorations from my old pity parties. I really don’t know why I stowed those things away in the first place. Guess I thought they’d come in handy later. But for what? For making excuses to keep making the same old stupid mistakes?
Enough of that.
It’s time to toss out the old to make room for the new. To keep what’s valuable and let go of what no longer serves me. That goes for the closet in my house, and the closet in my mind.
So I hereby resolve:
At last, I’m going to do it.
I’m finally going to get rid of that useless junk.
But I’m keeping the corduroy bell-bottom jumpsuit…