Saturday, January 30, 2010
I was driving my regular route home when a giant cardboard sign made from a refrigerator box snatched my attention. Moving Sale was written in fat black magic marker. Dressers, lamps and random pieces of furniture stood lined up in a row. I wondered if somebody had divorced or maybe died.
A colonial style, harvest gold couch stuck out like an awkward freshman desperately trying to fit in. I thought of my high school best friend whose mom had the large floral print version of that very couch. I have grandkids … you do the math.
Secrets of multiple owners over several decades were likely hidden in the tattered cushions of that couch. I could almost smell the combination of cigarette smoke, popcorn, spilled soda, and cat throw-up as I drove by thinking of the years it had seen. Sometimes we keep old familiar things long after they’ve worn out because in some mysterious way they serve as comfort.
If moving on and starting fresh feels so good, why do we cling to so many things longer than we should? On the backside of our good judgment we know we’d be better off without them, but we hoard and hang on anyway. The only explanation I’ve come up with is this; familiar is comfortable, however good or awful it might be.
Oddly enough, some things the most difficult to let go of are dreadful experiences of our past. A painful childhood, an abusive first marriage, betrayal by a business partner, or shamefully poor choices and disappointments are relived every time we let our thoughts wander.
My aunt and uncle are moving out of their home of 40 years and there’s plenty of sorting and tossing out to do. Maybe all of us should take on the same thing with the emotional junk stored in the attic keeping us from moving on and starting fresh. Dig through to see what’s been stashed away, bag it up and dump it.
I’m grateful I drove past the Moving Sale sign in the parking lot of the strip mall. It caused me to take inventory of harvest gold couches I might be hanging on to that really should be put out on the curb.