by Rachel Brady
I did two significant things in July. I bought a house and I cancelled my Twitter account. Different scales of magnitude, but interesting parallels nonetheless.
First, the house. I'm something of a minimalist. Having a lot of "stuff" around me stresses me out. In it, I see things to clean, mend, put away, maintain, file, etc. Clutter severely impedes my ability to relax and when I'm around it I find myself powerless to live in the moment. Instead, I'll decide to relax after such-and-such is cleaned/mended/put away/filed/etc. So I try to keep "stuff" to a minimum.
Preparing for the move, I resolved to move only those things that I either 1) use or 2) love. I held firm to that and quickly discovered something. I'd been holding on to certain items because they were important to somebody else, but not important to me.
The main culprit was my father. For more than twenty years, I've moved (countless times) artifacts that once belonged to his mother, or to him in his earlier years, that were given to me because they were special to him. Not to seem callous (I'm not callous, I just don't like "things") but these items aren't special to me. I'm not sure when I became the family pack mule , but I handed that pack right back this month.
I think my predicament originated years ago, before I was wise to my dad's ways. I'm pretty sure now that it was directed at me in the spirit of: "I don't want these things anymore, but they are too special/noteworthy/expensive to give/throw away, so here, Rachel. A gift! For you!" I'll likely use this technique on my own children one day, so I'm not necessarily disapproving it. Just saying that I'm getting smarter. Slowly. My kids can figure it out when they're in their thirties, too. Fifties if I'm lucky.
In any case, my new home contains only those things that I use or love. Serenity.
Twitter is not so different from my grandmother's old candle or my father's collection of 1970s airline silverware, which I'm not entirely certain he acquired via legitimate means. The reason Twitter is not so different is that I neither use Twitter nor love it, yet I've kept that stupid account for years because other people (writers, publishers, agents) say I should. But Twitter was my father's old end table. My grandmother's weathered jewelry box. It was a burden thrust upon me by someone else who said--rather compellingly--that it was very, very important for a writer to have and keep.
Like the PanAm silverware, Twitter held no value to me. So it's gone. If I never see another @, #, or RT, it'll be too soon. #goodriddance
My colleague Brian says it's fine for people to be weird as long as they know they're weird. I get that I'm over the top with my aversion to extraneous belongings and my diminishing patience for social media and the Internet in general. Those are my wacky, quirky design features. I'm okay with being a little strange.
And I'm curious too. What things are you holding onto in life--possessions, ideas, habits--that aren't helping you be your most fulfilled, most peaceful self? Are you in a place where you can identify them and finally drop them?