14 Nov

On Letting Go

It’s my last official day of W.O.R.K tomorrow. The last day, in my foreseeable future, that I will trek to the office to do a J.O.B.

I don’t think I’ll miss it, but I worry a little that I will. I think it’s about defining success; learning what that looks like in a new light when all the past success parameters don’t measure up any longer. I’ll have to develop a new scale…or…just stop trying to measure up.

What’s really been interesting the past few weeks is getting rid of all our stuff.

We started Kijiji-ing like mad as soon as we decided to leave and things have  been selling pretty well. We’re down to sleeping on the sofa bed in the living room with a filing cabinet as a coffee table/night stand/dining table. It’s almost like camping – only I’m warm.

As we go through things, deciding on the few items to keep and where to send the rest, a few patterns have emerged that re-enforce the underlying force behind all of this; things don’t matter, it’s the experiences that matter.

All the furniture, serving sets, wine glasses and things we purchased when we bought our first home were the absolute easiest to get rid of.

I didn’t blink an eye as the cabinets we so carefully chose walked out the door. The bedroom set I so coveted so I could be a ‘grown up’? Bye-bye.

That beautiful, perfect, dining room table I spent a fortune on is now mocking me in the corner as I am unable to sell it for even a fraction of what I paid for it. I had a niggling feeling when I bought it, obsessed over not scratching or marring it whenever we used it, and now it is making me pay. Making me learn the lesson that spending great amounts of money for something is not the way to happiness.

The pieces I struggle with letting go?

The first piece of furniture I ever bought once I graduated school; it reminds me of swelling with pride that I could afford something comfortable to sit in.

The candle stick wall sconce that Jason brought to my teeny tiny apartment when he moved in – we still try to dine by candle light as often as possible.

My bike. So many memories of so many years churning up trails with the Fat Bastards.

A cheap, French-inspired, poster bought from a hole-in-the-wall shop after a few beers on a rainy, fall afternoon many years ago. It was my first piece of ‘art’ and started a motley collection of which each piece reminds me of a time and place.

The things I am most connected to are those that remind me of times and experiences that are most important to me. I look back fondly on the early days of my relationship with Jason. We lived in a teeny tiny apartment, enjoyed ourselves immensely, and didn’t have many things. The things we are most easily getting rid of now remind me of following blindly down a path without checking in with myself.

It’s about looking back, letting go, and moving forward. Easier said than done. But. Done.


19 thoughts on “On Letting Go

  1. I agree with you 100% and am so envious of the new adventure that awaits. I have an old friend from high school who made a point not to collect much “stuff” – even after having two kids – so that they could just get up and go. “It all has to fit in a backpack.” was her motto. I can’t wait to read about what comes next for you guys. Good luck!
    Erin recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: 34

  2. Yay! So excited for you!!!! Insightful post. I can so relate to it all especially the last paragraph. Brian and I so often these days look back on an earlier time when we had very little, no debt, and way more freedom. It seemed then that there was so much more possibility for experience. Now, we feel the constant weight of all we have. I look forward to reading more about your next chapter. You continue to inspire me!!!

  3. Gillian, this is such a lovely post and I totally relate. The things that were hard for me to get rid of were the things that held strong memories. After many tears I actually decided to keep those things! But the big, expensive pieces of furniture? The fancy TV and the couch we spent a fortune on? All gone. And I don’t miss those things for a second. LESS STUFF, MORE LIFE! Now, I want an update on what the hell you and Jason are about to do. Where are you headed?!?!?!
    Kim recently posted..Six months on the road and thoughts on homesickness

  4. I am so impressed with the speed at which you are moving on. Who knew that Japan was going to be such a catalyst. And you’re right – things are just that – and not that I don’t like my stuff – but I could still leave almost all of it behind and go…. Maybe one day yet. I really do wish you loads of luck on the next adventure.
    Leigh recently posted..A Visit to Miss Moneypenny’s Retreat

  5. “The bedroom set I so coveted so I could be a ‘grown up’? Bye-bye.”
    Why does having stuff that matches or looks new define us as adults? I remember when we were nearing our wedding date and I was trying to decide on whether or not to register for anything. I didn’t want stuff, we wanted money if anyone wanted to get us a present, but I also didn’t want UGLY stuff. My best friend suggested towels, but we had towels that dried us just fine, so I couldn’t justify registering for them. It just felt like more stuff. But in everyone else’s eyes, this is just what you did when you got married. It seemed to represent some kind of rite of passage into adulthood. Well, our towels still don’t match, our couch and most of our furniture are hand me downs, but we’re 50% to our goal. So, whatever.

    I’m just so excited for you guys.

  6. When I was getting ready to move to Germany, most of my stuff was pretty easy to let go of too. I probably didn’t have to downsize quite as much, but I didn’t ship anything to Germany, it all had to be carried in 3 trips in luggage. I struggled watching my things go not because of the furniture or whatever itself, but because of what it all meant, what it meant that my apartment was quickly emptying out. I knew I was making the right decision, but it was still so scary and so sad to be leaving my friends, family, and everything familiar to me.

    I’m really looking forward to hearing about your next steps on this wonderful journey. Good luck with your last day of work, and congrats! I still can’t believe how quickly this all happened, and it’s awesome!
    Ali recently posted..Are You Afraid to Travel Alone?

    • I think making changes such as you made are supposed to be scary – even if you know it’s what you really want to do. If it was easy, then everyone would do it! Thanks for the support Ali – I really hope to see you and Andy in Freiburg one day!
      Gillian recently posted..On Letting Go

  7. Still awaiting the episode on House Hunters International where you guys make the big reveal as to where you’re going (once you decide that is)…..in the meantime, I always enjoy your writing, and look forward to following as you make your way to the next exciting chapter of your life journey. Good on you guys!

  8. I remember when Tony and I were frantically trying to get rid of all our stuff prior to our big trip… it was exhausting! We only lived in a 700sq foot apartment, and yet the sheer volume of stuff we had packed away was astounding. I didn’t really have any issues getting rid of our material possessions, but I did keep a box full of keepsakes (mostly cards and notes,postcards) that would mean nothing to anyone but myself. For me, these are cherished reminders of the person I once was, and it’s nice knowing that as I continue moving forward, I’ll always have these touchstones of the place I’m coming from. I know that so long as I stay true to my dreams and convictions, I’ll never really lose my way, but moving forward doesn’t have to mean cutting all ties to the past.
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Hong Kong: First Impressions

  9. things don’t matter, it’s the experiences that matter. What a great way to put it Gillian. In just a month I have to start selling off all my possessions, and I know I will feel the same. Some things from my past that I treasure will be hard to let go, but for everything I let go it opens up space for new adventure and experiences. This post will be a great reminder when I am selling my things :)
    Stephen S. recently posted..Wednesday’s Weekly Photo

  10. What a wonderful reflection on ‘stuff’ Gillian! The hardest things for me to get rid of before we set off were items I had purchased on previous travels! That proved to me where my values layed, and that we were making the right decision. I had to laugh at that table mocking you!! And can relate!!! Best of luck x
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Back on the Road in Chiapas

  11. Letting go is always the difficult part. But that is what keeps life going. You leave something today and get attached to something tomorrow.

    Hope you had a great last day at work.

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