Sometimes I forget that letting go isn’t always easy. For some people, attachment isn’t an issue. It’s easy to let go. For most people though, myself included, letting go doesn’t come naturally.
I started collecting and saving all the bits and pieces of my life when I was eight years old. For decades, I carefully stored and carted around my stuff from home to home and state to state, even though most of the artifacts of my life offered no connection to anything. By the time my simplicity journey began, I had moved at least ten times as an adult. Each move was a perfect opportunity to let go, but instead, I boxed and bubble-wrapped each thing to take with me. Each new home invited more shopping, more stuff, and eventually … more bubble wrap.
After years of collecting and protecting, when I started to simplify my life and live with less, letting go was hard.
Remembering the sound of letting go
One morning, I woke up in Portland, Oregon in my cozy Airbnb at 5:30 am. I like to wake up gently, but I was startled awake. It was trash day in the neighborhood I called home for a few nights, and collecting the trash isn’t a gentle process.
I was in Portland for the Tiny Wardrobe Tour and spent the evening before with a room full of wonderful, thoughtful people. I shared my stories, answered questions and encouraged everyone to let go, but until the next day, I may have forgotten how hard change is in the beginning. The sound of plastic bins dragging across asphalt reminded me of the sound that letting go makes.
From the screech and hiss of the air brakes, to the giant mechanical claws wrapping around the bins, to pounds of glass, and plastic falling from one container to the next, my eyes flew open. The clattering metal and machinery, humming diesel engine and whooshing hydraulics filled my ears and mind. The ripping, tearing, and crashing noises this morning reminded me of letting go, but that’s not the sound of letting go.
The scary, jarring noises I heard are the sounds of fear and attachment, the sounds of holding on too tight. Letting go may feel hard and sound loud, but holding on is harder. You have to hold on every day, and not just to the stuff. You hold on to fear of not having enough, the stress of taking care of everything, and the guilt of spending too much or keeping things you don’t use. All the holding on is noisy … deafening sometimes.
As the truck finally pulled away and left me in the early morning silence, I remembered the real sound of letting go … the sound I heard when I started decluttering and letting go, the sound of empty rooms in our house, the sound of walking into our new, smaller space, the sound of becoming debt free, of waking up stress free, the sound of being light, and the sound of Monday morning walks instead of Monday morning meetings. That’s what letting go sounds like.
The sound of letting go is not the painful, screeching sound I woke up to. Instead, it’s the sound of welcoming a new day before the sun comes up, that sound when you can almost hear stars twinkling.
The calm, the peace, the relief, the joy … that’s the sound of letting go.