This one is kind of a struggle. I can always tell where I feel a lack, because that’s where I hoard. If I’m broke, I hoard money, if I’m pressured I hoard energy, if I’m under-appreciated, I hoard love.
The problem is that hoarding essentially kills what was useful there. If it’s hoarded, it rots. It has to be used, and used freely, not in metered doses.
As weird as it is, releasing whatever it is you don’t have enough of frees you from its thrall. So I try to notice when I’m hoarding. (Stifling might be a better word.) Teasing out what the hoarded material actually means to me is pretty useful, since there’s usually a better way to get it than what I’ve been doing. Asking for things, instead of just trying to arrange the entire universe to my liking. It kind of helps that I’m inclined to be generous, so when I’m not, there’s a slight alarm buzz in my brain.
The Phenomenon of Stuff
As I was packing to move over the last month, I noticed as I never have before the sheer psychic weight of ownership.
I was reminded of JRR Tolkien’s poem “The Hoard,”
There was an old dragon under grey stone;
his red eyes blinked as he lay alone.
His joy was dead and his youth spent,
he was knobbed and wrinkled, and his limbs bent
in the long years to his gold chained;
in his heart’s furnace the fire waned.
The weight of ownership is taxing; as difficult to maintain as slavery or worship. That is not to say that my things don’t bring me joy; but they bring sorrow as well. They demonstrate security, but demand commitment.
I imagine my things as Lilliputian cords– they might not stop me, but they can slow me down.
I realized, as I packed, that I wanted to honour the gift that each of my things represented. I held onto many things that were given to me, not because the gift was esteemed, but because the person was. Some things I can’t even use anymore, like the beautiful hairclips from when I had masses of heavy, thick hair that had to be practically lashed into place.
I gave away two sets of silver earrings to my sister; unicorns. I have never worn them. I don’t have pierced ears. But they were beautiful, and had meaning to me. But I was fine with giving them to her, because she would love them too.
In a curious twist of fate, we wound up with a trailer smaller than we ordered and wound up leaving half our things behind. It’s been a week, and the only thing I miss is my desk. I love the spaciousness in our new place. I wonder how it would feel to give more things away? Not simply dropped off for donation, but given mindfully to someone who would adore it? I do have beautiful things– but these beautiful things have me, too.
In retrospect, I think this instruction needed punctuation:
Generosity is not the point. Freedom is. Stepping out of the gilded cage, no matter how beautifully furnished, and allow those lovely things to find their way to other hands. Honouring the gift, and the giver, ad infinitum.
Other posts in this series: