I‘ve been working through a very slow bit of spring cleaning recently (yes, I’m aware that it’s now August). This has never come easily to me – it’s not so much that I want to keep a bunch of things, exactly, but the process of deciding which things to keep is frustratingly difficult. After getting through a couple of bookshelves and approximately seven percent of my closet, I decided to tackle my altar, which I’m embarrassed to admit had collected dust and random things in equal measure.
This process led, naturally, to that age-old question: “Where did all of these freaking bits come from?” Beads, bits of string, various trinkets from rituals past, a twig that I’m absolutely certain meant something from a meaningful walk in the woods some long time ago…there was a lot of stuff there, and most of it inspired more of a confused shrug than a thoughtful nod.
Now, none of these items qualified as clutter when I acquired them. If they hadn’t been part of a meaningful experience at the time, they wouldn’t be there, um…cluttering up my altar now. It does make me think, though. When does the awareness that something used to be meaningful stop being enough of a reason to keep it around? It sure feels like that question comes up more often these days than it used to. It could be that I’m a wiser and more thoughtful person than I used to be, or (much more likely!) it could just be that as I get older, I find that more things – relationships, hobbies, ritual detritus – slips over that edge into “Well, clearly this used to matter to me a lot, but I really couldn’t say why, exactly.”
I don’t have a good answer to the question – if I did, I wouldn’t be in the middle (okay, the beginning) stages of spring cleaning in August, would I? In this specific case, though, I found something of a solution. I picked out one bead to be a stand-in for all the other objects whose origin I couldn’t remember, and have let the others go after a grateful acknowledgement of whatever they meant to the past Jason who found them so important at one time.
This actually turned out to be a surprisingly easy process, likely because I’m at least sort of inclined to keep that altar space sacred, and I’m sort of inclined to be mindful and thoughtful about what things I keep there (not inclined enough to dust regularly, granted). I’m wondering, now, what I can do to bring even that fairly minimal sense of mindfulness to the rest of my life, or even to my closet.
That sounds like a good question to try and answer during the summer months, I think, which means that I can pencil in some time to address it sometime in November.
This post was written by Jason Frey