What Would You Take? A Momentary Decision About What’s Important


This summer, I am working on the great unleashing of stuff. In other words, I am lightening my load. I’m clearing through clutter. I’m digging through detritus. I’m experimenting in entropy. Making decisions about what to keep, what to clear, what to donate, what to sell in a yard sale, and what to recycle is a bit of a challenge and a bit of fun. I like the idea that I’m sharing and redistributing resources that have too long been stagnant while gathering dust. In fact, it feels a bit like a metaphor for my life. I’m dusting off and beginning anew.

As I sort through stuff, I also have to make intentional decisions about what I am keeping. I go through the steps and the piles grow and the chaos ensues. I am also doing this south of the state border, in my beloved New Mexico, helping my mother look through ten years and beyond in a storage unit. She lives leanly, in a small 1 ½ bedroom cottage, but she’s been storing memories and materials for some time. It helps to have a partnership in the purge. We cheer each other on and we make plans for a yard sale of our findings at the end of this week. We’ve already planned the donation run for after the sale, making sure that everything we donate is in good condition. For other stuff, we’ve filled my car twice with materials to recycle: from traditional paper and cardboard to scrap metal and difficult-to-deal-with recyclables that have limited markets and limited collections in my mother’s rural area. I bring it, car bulging, back to the abundant recycling infrastructure of my home in Longmont.

At the same time of our sorting games, there are residents of the West who must make much quicker decisions about what they want to keep and recover. As the fires of the west rage during this hot and dry summer, some residents are on high alert for evacuation, often having just moments to take, grab, and escape. My prayers are with these people. How do you choose among a lifetime’s belongings? How do you grab what is important, essential, and irreplaceable? There is a clarity that comes with calamity. My heart goes out to folks making those decisions. For them and for me, I yearn to be lighter in my load, less burdened by stuff. Our hearts and minds can be loaded with memories, allowing us the ability to choose wisely. By letting go, we can move forward.

What would you choose? What would you leave behind? How do you start anew? What goes in your memory bank and what do you cast away to be given anew?

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