“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” –Herman Hesse
Recently, I went on-line to www.gooddonor.com and scheduled a pick-up to free myself from the boxes of ‘stuff’ in my home. Fortunately, I had the pick-up date scheduled a week in advance so I could have plenty of time to sort through my belongings. Of course, the night before my donation pick-up, I sat in front of my boxes dividing my belongings into piles of trash, recycle, donate, or keep. I found my children’s old belongings such as their cute onesies and crib mobile. I found paintings and posters that I used to stare at in my previous bedrooms. I found letters that I wrote to my parents when I was younger. And letters from my mother. What do I keep?
These boxes of ‘stuff’ consumed so much space. Yet when I went through the objects one at a time, there seemed to be a significant story behind each object. I kept asking myself what do I keep? I realized these precious objects represent a part of my family’s past and a part of my past. However, these objects are not family nor myself. I decided to recycle and donate as much as possible. I thought I might feel sad to let these objects go, but I actually feel free. I feel present and open to the here and now.
Non-attachment is a practice in the eight-fold (ashtanga) path of yoga. It’s a tricky concept. Does it mean to be non-attached and numb to life? Does it mean to not be attached or love anyone? My understanding is that non-attachment is to be present to the process of life but not attached to the end goal. For example, I recently started to include some ‘links’ in my linked-in site and I noticed the thought go through my mind ‘what if I don’t have as many links as other colleagues?’ Then I realized that the purpose of connecting is not to just build a high number of connections, but rather to enjoy the individual process of connecting to colleagues.
So, yes, I did keep a few onesies and letters. But I know one day, I will let them go too. Life is a practice of building up the strength to let go. Letting go of the end result. Letting go of our expectations. And noticing how we experience freedom with each release and each exhalation.