“We store ‘incompletes,’ things that we do not want to handle, and put [them] into the ‘back of our minds.’ They don’t go away, as we might hope. They surface, usually in unpredictable ways and timing, giving us the opportunity to face and complete what we have started.” —John-Roger, DSS
Here’s Part 2 about my personal challenges in letting go of stuff.
In Part 1, I wrote about my tears and indecision last summer while clearing out my storage unit in Ontario, CA. I took that action to avoid getting suckered into years of paying the ever-rising cost of a unit—something I so easily coulda fallen into.
Silly as it sounds, I learned a strategy back then for coping with my distress: my friend NK suggested I thank each object, as I disposed of it, for how it had served me as a touchstone of a remembered experience. Expressing gratitude served to bring about completion with both the memory and with the object. Brilliant!
On top of that, I knew a practical idea, learned from my spiritual teacher, that Earth is a planet of completion. If I complete what I start, I go free. If I don’t complete what I start, my energy gets tied up.
My mental and physical health and all sorts of choices may be affected by “incompletes” hanging out in my life.
The best news, though, in that perspective on procrastination is that there are several ways to complete something. We can DO it (say, read the book we started), or we can declare the thing complete (e.g., fan through the pages of the book and say, “I’m done with it,” and mean it).
Many things in my storage unit were related to “someday-maybe” plans.
I used to think I could get it all in, in this one lifetime, so I stored the paraphernalia I needed for a project. I used to think…I’ll make that patchwork autobiographical quilt when I get that ancient sewing machine from my grandmother fixed…I’ll someday go camping in every national park in the country… I’ll surely research and write a book about this or that…Oh, yes, I’ll take classes in you-name-it…Andl I’ll really learn Spanish fluently.
Wrong. I won’t have time to accomplish all those ideas and projects in this lifetime.
What I realized in that storage unit was that I had to get up to date with what I’m most interested in today.
Now, I have to focus.
Now, I need to declare certain ideas expired. Now, I need to bless and dispose of the physical goods associated with them. Now, I’m going to have to COMPLETE those plans and dreams and projects, without ever seeing them come to life.
And, I’ll be happier if I let them go, now.
So that’s a lot of what I did when emptying my storage unit. Sometimes, with tears of rebellion and sadness, I had to get hard-nosed with myself. Would I rather like to read in my current interests, or do I want to give up those interests to return to ones for which I’d collected books in my 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s?
The answers were obvious if I looked at how I truly used my time. That was the barometer: what do I actually choose when I’m in the present moment?
If I spend leisure time doing something, it’s what I’m interested in NOW.
Let the other stuff go. Declare it complete. Stay au courant with myself as I think and feel now.
Cleaning out the storage unit was shit-or-get-off-the-pot time. Knitting projects, collections I started… yadie, yadie, yadie. Thank you, and good-bye!
Now a year later, I occasionally find more bits and pieces of someday-maybe projects. I’m not perfectly au courant, but I’m pretty good.
Yet it’s something I must repeatedly do: choose this moment.
For when my time runs out, what I want is a sense of completion. I want to be able to say I deliberately chose my priorities; I acted on them; I had fun because I really cared about them; I created as much beauty and loving as I did; and it was good.
So three cheers for letting go! For deciding. For completing. For knowing there’s always more to get excited about, and that the only thing that really matters is, Did I love my life and those in it enough?
Ultreia y Suseia!