My friend’s four year old son caught her red-handed and called her out while she was throwing away one of his artistic creations from pre-school. “Oh,” she said somewhat awkwardly. “Did you want to keep this?” He replied clearly to ensure there would be no further misunderstandings, “I want to keep everything I ever had.”
Wow! An attachment to our ‘things’ certainly starts early. My hairdresser’s five years old granddaughter is another example. After being asked to participate in the family effort to skinny down the number of things they had accumulated, the aspiring songstress composed a song on her small electric keyboard. I don’t want to infringe on her intellectual property, so I won’t post all the lyrics here, (which were great by the way, and the tune was very catchy), but her message was also clear.
Letting things go can be so hard. It makes me sad. I’ll miss my stuff. I don’t want to do that.
I did a little google research this morning on the psychology behind holding on to stuff and why people collect things. According to Wikipedia, collecting or keeping things allows people to relive their childhood or connect themselves to a period or a time they feel strongly about. Collections help them ease insecurity and anxiety about losing a part of themselves and to allow the past to continue to exist in the present. Wow! That explains so much to me.
I think this, in part, explains why people like, or don’t like to go to class reunions. It has less to do with how people turned out and measure success, and more to do with whether they have good memories of going to school and want to hang on to them or relive them. My personal observations indicate that the majority of people at a class reunion are also the people that have the most shared memories. I went to the same school K-12. Many of the people attending our class reunions are not just individuals from the graduating class, but the people that went to the same school for the majority of their school time and have fun memories.
And as hard as it can be to let material things go, it can be even harder to let emotional things go. The internet abounds with lists of things that people should let go.
There are no surprises on these lists. I don’t think anyone would argue that holding on to resentment or guilt is a good idea. The trick is the execution.
Whether emotional or physical – letting go can be good for the soul. My 27 year old son recently let go of a ginormous collection of Bionicle construction toys. He was somewhat hesitant. He certainly wasn’t using them anymore, but he has such great memories of playing with them, it was like letting go of old friends. In the end he donated some to Goodwill and some to a nurture program where young children are paired with adult mentors that interact positively with them through play. One young boy was overjoyed with the opportunity to play with these particular toys and it was great for my son to receive that feedback.
Whether letting go of things physical or emotional, the feelings of relief I have experienced have been similar. Letting things go can be so hard, but I’m often so glad that I did.