The sound of silence on this blog this weekend was the thud of garbage landing in my dumpster.

Yup. I went there. I rented a dumpster. A big one. What those in the dumpster biz call a “15 yarder”. Its the kind of dumpster that made the neighbors inquire about renovations I had in store? Was I ripping out the kitchen? Adding a new addition? “No,” I said. “I am just throwing stuff out.”

Three years ago, when I discovered feng shui, the very first thing I needed to do was declutter the house. I have been on a three year odyssey to clear it out. Its a journey that has no end.
“Hello. My name is Meg. And I am a pack rat”.

I am a funny breed of pack rat though. I am not the type that wants to hold onto the stuff. In fact I hate stuff. Can’t stand it. It makes me edgy just being around it. But I am in a reluctant marriage to the junk as I just somehow forget to let it go.

Take papers.  I read them and then place them on the counter. Not because I want them, or even because I need them. But because I get distracted sometime after I read them and before I made it to the recycling bin to throw them away. And then, I will rush by those same papers on my way out the door, leaving them on the counter only to get buried beneath more papers. And so it goes.

Tasks that are half-finished get left out in my house–I work at them here and there. The bills are almost always spread out on the table. I sit down with full intentions of getting them done but the phone rings, the boy needs something, the time comes to run an errand. I am not done. And so it is left with the hopes that I can complete the last 5 minutes in some little bit of stolen time. All week. And so it goes.

Clothes I no longer wear, toys Max no longer plays with are shoved to the side, maybe even bagged for the shelter but we forget to take the next step.  The shelter was the last stop in the weekend’s errands–the one that didn’t get done.  So the bags get left in the hallway and we step over them, each time making a mental note to go tomorrow…tomorrow…tomorrow…

And after awhile I go nutty–crazy even. I rush around like a mad woman and try and put it all in order. I curse the fact that I have so little time, even as I think about all the things I would rather be doing. Honest truth– I do have the time to keep my house clutter free–I just choose to spend that time practicing guitar or writing or playing with Max or watching Weeds with Jackie while we eat dark chocolates under a cozy blanket after the kids have gone to sleep.

And so it goes until I look up and realize that I am choking with abundance. That I am swimming. That I am being besieged with the energy of 100 uncompleted tasks all beckoning me to pay attention. That I am being taunted by the papers I forgot to let go of. That I am so surrounded by the energy of things past and future that I have no still space to be here.

And so I fall into a practice of sorts. A meditation. An emptying out. I splurge on a dumpster. I fill up bags for the Women’s Shelter. I practice letting go. And letting go again. And not forgetting to let go.

I will spend two weeks with my dumpster. She is a bell calling me to let go. To finish. To empty and empty some more. When the dumpster arrived I had no idea how I would fill her but now she is almost three-quarters filled and I am looking around the house and I see so much that needs to go. I can’t believe that so much stuff has survived these frantic purges. I am shocked at what has continued to survive.

No matter how much I empty out, I see so much more that needs to go.

I have recently noticed that my fear, my attachments are onion like. I peel away a layer, only to realize a hidden one. A memory. A word. A hope. An expectation. It is all stuff–tying me to the past. Tying me to the future. Keeping me from fully experiencing the present.

This too must go.

So I try and declutter my heart. I meditate and sit. I whisper mantras. I throw away the moldy furniture that is piled up in the garage and at the same time try toss out the heavy furniture that weighs down my heart. I sweep out the dusty corners. It is empty and still and I can be present if only for a moment before the dust settles down and the papers find their way again.

Three years ago, I foolishly believed that I with the help of feng shui, elbow grease and a little determination I would turn some magic corner and live a simple clutter free life without ever a need to see a dumpster again. But I realize now it is a life long practice. Not a destination. Just a way of being. It is a practice I sometimes followbut all too often ignore, a practice I need to…well…practice. It is the ritual emptying out. It is spring cleaning in September….and October…and November…

It is my practice…

I had finished packing the car.  I went over my list one more time, just to be sure.  I was certain I had left a box somewhere in the house.  But as I went down the list it was all there.  The car looked empty compared to years past.  I couldn’t figure it out.  How is it that I had downsized my life to this point, to this place where Max and I would be away for two full weeks and we needed so very little.

 In years past the car was bursting at the seams and it always took creative packing done by an ex-husband coming to say goodbye and hankering to help.  But this year by the  time he pulled into the driveway it was done and I was brushing my hands off on my oh too cute mini-skort.  “All done.”  I told him.  He looked it all over, himself in shock…”Can’t be.”   “Yup,” I said.  Its true. Even now, a week into the trip I can’t believe I brought so much.  Even the few Rubbermaid bins that did make it into the car seemed to be too much.  Did I really need to bring all EIGHT books?  I mean really…I will be lucky to make it through two or three.  And did we need all three flashlights?  But we are definitely not without.  We have everything we need.  And more.  In the past what did I need all that other stuff for? Packing for this trip for the last three years I have noticed how I am slowly letting go of my attachments to material things.  I don’t say it to gloat, as I know it is very much in fashion these days to lose ones attachment to stuff.  I say it because it really is a milestone for me, personally.  I feel so light and giddy and I want to get rid of even more—throw a few of these boxes off to the side of the road. As a young adult, stuff was a measure of success.  When the days of poverty ended I set about accumulating stuff.  The beautiful teapots I admired in the windows of Crate and Barrell, mine.  Three sets of sheets for the bed.  Mine again.  Beer glasses, wine glasses, good knives, books, prints and picture frames, vases and furniture, journals and fancy pens.  I could afford them all and therefore there was no reason for me not to bring them home. It was an issue of contention between Juan and I.  I would run into Target for diapers and leave him in the car with the baby.  I would come out with my arms full of throw pillows, cat dishes, and fancy dishcloths.  “How much did that cost?” he would ask suspiciously.  I would huff and puff and exclaim that we “NEEDED IT”, justifying my purchases by the fact that they were on sale, or very very cheap.  The scorn in his eyes burned so I just looked away.  I knew he was right but this was my comfort now that I had somehow arrived, that I some how grew up. I had moments, all too telling, of sitting and flipping through catalogs, dreaming of the new stuff I would buy when I could—some day when I had made it to some new level of fullness and wealth.  It was as though I was convinced that if I filled up my house I would somehow fill up the empty places in my heart. But life has a funny way of coming full circle and since Juan left me, so much of my energy has been about letting go…letting go of him, letting go of my vision for how my life was going to play out, letting go of fear and my illusion of control….well…letting go of the stuff,  the need for things just came along as part of the bargain.  Afterall, after you lose love, suddenly losing things just seems so small. Whatever it is that has got me to this place, I am finding that I am now anxious to do more of it.  To consume less, to take up only a small space on this planet.  To use less things, to take only what I need.  I have heard of those experiments where people vow to not buy stuff for a year.  I wonder if I am up for that? Or if I can do something of a half step—make even more conscious choices about what I buy.  Eliminate things that aren’t needed at all.   What would my car look like next year after spending 12 months doing that?  How would our life look different.  I am just curious enough to try it.  Stay tuned here.