One day in June, three months into the COVID pandemic, I decided to empty a back room in my basement. I knew that I had outgrown my need for possessions that had long been relegated to the unseen places of my home and my mind. I anticipated going through a familiar process of surveying everything carefully, revisiting memories, choosing a few things that could go and then neatly repacking the rest—always with the caveat, “just for now.”
However, as I sat crossed legged on the floor until well into the evening, combing through stacks of boxes, carefully examining each and every item stored within, I experienced a delicate shift in understanding, subtle as the shaft of light that illuminated the dark cellar wall. I became aware that these one-time treasures no longer had a living space in my home and, more profoundly, my inability to relinquish what has become materially obsolete directly corresponded with my hesitancy to move in new directions.
I’ve heard people talk about the joy of the purge and I have to say that, to a certain degree, it did feel freeing to clear out the clutter—literally and metaphorically. Likewise, the process of release was as bittersweet as goodbyes and transitions can be. Which is why I prefer to think of my action of letting go, less as a purge in the classic sense, and more like a pardoning, replete with forbearance and benevolence. My current mantra is, “I thank you for your service and I set you free.” I am hard pressed to say what will replace the boxes in the basement or exactly what broader life changes will manifest for me, but I can say with satisfaction that the space has been cleared and I am once again feeling the flow.
Now, five months into this collective COVID-19 experience, my genuine hope for all is that this pandemic, despite and because of the challenges it presents, will teach us to let go of what no longer serves and embrace that which is alive and important for each of us and the world. Be well.