When asked to help a friend move her apartment to a storage area, I asked why she is not getting rid of all of her “stuff” since she is moving out of the country.
Her response is that she would return. I suggested that she could start over when she returns. She suggested that her stuff was heirloom quality.
I agreed not because I believe that it is heirloom quality, that is never the point. I agreed because it is not my judgement call. I am helping a friend not passing judgement on her decision.
I can help or I can decide that it is not worth my time. I love my friend and care for her very much and decided to help.
I arrive and nothing is ready or packed, never mind.
There is my husband, two other men and my friend to help and we are fine.
As my husband and I move the pieces down the stairs, he looks at me and I ask him to please not say anything. He smiles and knocks on the back of the heirloom chest of drawers. Particle board. I cannot help it and smile back and nod.
We help until the truck is full of the heaviest pieces in the apartment and then bid our friend goodbye and leave.
I sit in the car wondering what just happened in the last hour. I moved stuff that was worthless for my friend to pay hundreds of dollars to keep in a storage area, money she does not have, money she needs to live on.
Trying to make sense of it I realize that she lived with her things for so many years that separating meant almost a revulsion of who she is, it is not, but she feels it.
I remember how adamant she is to keep her things just in case she returns. It is the last shred of herself and presence in this place. This is her ticket to return. Her excuse to be back, her existence.
In all honesty she can decide to come back without subterfuge, she is old enough to make her own decisions. But to do that without guilt would take a belief that she is not tied in with her things.
Attachment to material things only weakens our freedom to live. Rooting ourself in strength of who we are is different from deciding who we are by what we own. Finding our identity in what we own is destructive at best since nothing lasts.
Material things are just that, depreciating, decomposing and eventually worthless. Separating ourself from what we own is healthy and helpful. Remembering that things can be replaced gives us the freedom to make decisions without being tied down like an anchor about our neck.
Throw over the albatross and live free.