A life of courage, joy and independence.
The experience of youth left me with an impression that movement though life usually necessitates the periodic giving up of various curios and treasures we might have picked up along the way. This might be done when we feel the need to move again, yet do not possess the means of conveying the entirety of our estate into the future and on to the next patch of ground we might call home. Deciding what to release, or better yet abandon, can be a very real and pressing cause of distress to those who are not practiced in the art of moving on and letting go. I’d like now to write a bit on the topic of commencement; of moving from the present circumstance, through a period of change, to then resettle in a new land, circumstance or identity, and the process of giving up some of what we own or are along the way.
The time to learn the art of commencement is when we’re young. Interestingly, and contrary to the common sense, it’s the young adult and not the aged who may lay more store in the value and importance of what they possess. The things we own serve as an extension of ourselves, providing an outward expression of who we are or want to be. The place we call home, the vehicle we drive, clothes we wear and all of our adornments create an outermost shell of identity, telling the world what we think and perhaps what the world should think of us. Though young people may acquire, hold and dispose of possessions in rapid succession, these object are nevertheless vital to their identity during the period of time they are kept and put on public display. Oldsters, though they may possess more due to long life and improved fortune, may actually identify less with what they own than with the people, connections and stories these possessions might symbolize. Objects without such sentimental association are likely kept for their utilitarian value, with little regret or sense of loss felt if and when they are disposed of.
Many elderly at the end of life seek contentment in surrounding themselves on their deathbed with a relatively small, yet deeply cherished collection of knickknacks, most likely photographs and a few small items possessed of memory, while perhaps lumping the rest as useless clutter and waste, best given away to relatives or charity when their functional life has been served. The problem is that many of us hold onto such possessions throughout life, acquiring and collecting more in a process that may result in a home full of much useless clutter and waste. The process often begins early in life and may not end until the trap is complete, and hindsight perhaps reveals how the things we once acquired to help create and express our identity has possibly kept us from becoming more by limiting our freedom, mobility, options and independence.