First, the question, which is the one I was forced to ask myself during the frantic two weeks we had to prepare for our “big move.” We could only take along the possessions deemed absolutely necessary. I needed to trim Dana’s and my belongings to fit into a duffle-bagged sized u-haul for our 1,200 mile adventure to Nelson, British Columbia (with the car in tow and the two cats in cab).
What to take? What to let go?
What about that handmade piece of art given to me by a client 18 years ago? Or a beloved Stephen King book that I’ve read twice? And what of those samurai swords?
These are big, complex questions and ones that speak to me on many different levels. Precious stuff has got to go and there’s not much wiggle room. The truck is small, the journey is long and there are rules at the Canadian border. (What do you mean I can’t take my glorious, beloved mattress?!?) So what’s the criteria to determine whether something is needed, necessary – absolutely necessary – or not?
Here’s how I did it:
- Holding an object in my hand, I allowed whatever memories to arise.
- I visualized that time and place and felt all of the emotions.
- From my Heart and feeling these emotions, I connected with that person/people, place and activity.
- I then asked myself two rounds of questions.
- Round 1: Does this object help strengthen a connection that I want to continue to have in my life?
If “Yes,” it makes it to Round 2; if “No,” it hits the release pile.
- Round 2:
Does this object help move me forward into action and deeper connection?
Or has it helped to make me lazy, so that it replaced action with a type of passive connection that was made by “just looking at it”?
So the answer is simple: if it moves me forward into action, it stays; if it holds me back and fosters passivity, it goes.
For example, that wonderful, Heart-felt gift from a client? Gifted on to someone else. The Stephen King book? Donated to the local library along with about 400 of its brethren it shared the shelves with. Those swords? They’re coming and taking their rightful place on the Oriental table in the new living room.
The reason why those swords made the cut and the first two objects didn’t was because they hold the promise of future active connection. Those swords are sheathed in the agreement I’ve made to myself that if they come along, I must continue practicing the Japanese Iaido forms and the Indonesian Escrima martial arts they connect me to. I decided these activities, and by extension these objects, are absolutely necessary.
Now, it’s not that I didn’t want that client’s handmade piece of art or Stephen King’s Four Seasons. It’s that those objects created a connection based upon passivity – me not having to do anything.
I knew I was not going to reach out and connect with that old client again. After 18 years, I honestly have no idea where she is or how to find her.
And holding Four Seasons in my hand, I knew I wasn’t going to read it again any time soon.
Another beauty of this exercise is that I was able to use some objects I was releasing to actively connect one more time.
For example, when unloading Four Seasons onto the donation shelf at the Fort Collins public library, I remembered my favorite novella in the book, entitled, “The Body.” It was made into a popular movie, “Stand by Me,” which I shared with my son only a few years ago. The powerful message of “you never have friends like you do when you’re 12” was a point of connection for us both.
Using this memory to spur me into active connection, I made a call to my son (who’s now 17 and lifts more than me at the gym). I was rewarded with him explaining why he is now officially a “professional” basketball player: a wonderful, rambling, excited yarn about how he made $100 by successfully completing the challenge from a middle-aged gentleman at the JCC gym of nailing 10 3-pointers in a row. Pretty impressive! And ah….that feeling of connection!
Which brings us to the Invitation….
What is absolutely necessary? Connection. So, I am offering you this inaugural Alchemist Recovery blog & newsletter as an invitation for connection between you & I. In the future, I will be sending out recovery-related information, continuing education material, case studies, and responses to questions about any and all aspects of “the work.”
It’s simple: if this connection feels like something that holds the possibility of moving you forward, then I look forward to having it received and any correspondences we may have. And if not, unsubscribe and let go. Either way, we move actively into a creative future.
Also, it may have been a while since we’ve last connected. (My apologies, as I’ve been pretty passive and accumulating these last years!) I greatly look forward to catching up – lot’s has grown and changed! Please shoot me a comment below, an email or a FaceBook message.
- Autumn: The Season of Letting Go - September 25, 2016
- A Rookie Mistake - September 5, 2016
- “Hi, my name is….. - July 20, 2016
- Once an addict…always an addict? - June 22, 2016
- An Invitation…and a Question: What is absolutely necessary? - June 13, 2016
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