Given the current political climate, you probably assumed this blog was about President You-Know-Who when you read the title. In actuality, it is about letting go. While, I’m definitely ready to let go of the current administration, and welcome in the new, I’ll leave others to comment on politics right now.
What’s been on my mind lately is the 1979 movie, The Jerk. After finding out he’s adopted, Steve Martin’s character decides to discover the world by traveling to St. Louis. This movie came out the year I returned from studying at the University of Madrid. It made a big impression on me at the time and made me laugh to remember some of the scenes as we prepare to move to Spain in the next few weeks.
In the movie, Navin R. Johnson, played by Steve says, “Well I’m gonna to go then! And I don’t need any of this. I don’t need this stuff…I don’t need anything. Except this.” [picks up an ashtray] And this paddle game. The ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need… And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that’s all I need… And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball… And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp, and that’s all I need… I don’t need one other thing, not one… I need this. The paddle game and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches for sure. Well what are you looking at? What do you think I’m some kind of a jerk or something! And this. That’s all I need…And I don’t need one other thing, except my dog.”
While Rocky and I do not need an ashtray, a paddle game, a remote control or matches, we most certainly need our dog, Wilma. In The Jerk, Steve decides to leave his dog, affectionately known as Shithead, behind when he growls at him as Steve starts to leave.
We are awaiting our visas from the Spanish Consulate. They have asked us for money and our passports which is the final step. In the meantime, we’ve been trying to pair down to the essentials. Downsizing has helped us identify the ways in which we have become attached to stuff. Sometimes, like in the case of Steve Martin, it can be funny.
This week I’ve been shredding papers, documents and files to clean out my office. I look like someone in a foreign government office in the midst of a hostile take-over, shredding documents before the intruders can get them. (Until yesterday, I actually pictured that happening somewhere else but now we’ve seen it’s entirely possible in our country as well.)
If you’ve spent any time with me, you know I’ve had a love affair with binders for far too long. I thought they proved how organized I was. Now I realize I’ve just been addicted to paper. I feel a bit shaky, letting go of all of the paper in my life. My friend Jill, asked me today if that meant I was going to get a Kindle now and give up books? I was horrified at the thought! Curl up with a Kindle and not a book made of paper? Baby steps, Jill!
While I’m struggling with my office, Rocky is getting downright weepy in the kitchen trying to decide what he can live without in Spain. He told me his fifty pound cast iron skillet was an essential worker and would be going with us if I wanted him to keep cooking for me. I said he could choose fifty pounds of shoes or the cast iron skillet. He’s still trembling over that decision because he loves his shoes also.
Last night for extra motivation, we watched The Minimalists: Less is Now. In this show, longtime friends Joshua and Ryan, share how our lives can be better with less. They spend a lot of time talking about the psychology behind our need for stuff and how to identify what the void is that you are trying to fill when you buy things you don’t need.
After scanning and shredding 20,000 photos, donating bags and bags of clothes and letting go of twenty binders, we are starting to feel lighter. We can picture a life not ruled by taking care of “things.” A life where we can spend more time hiking, writing and exploring.
Interestingly, I don’t feel attached to our furniture in the same way as I did to photos and journals and every card I’ve ever received. (If you were hoping I was going to keep them, I’m sorry. I read them one last time and let them go.)
In the next few weeks, we will sell, donate or rehome all of our furniture, my car, and whatever kitchen pans and utensils Rocky gives up instead of his shoes. We have rented a small storage unit for our artwork that we want to keep. We figure we will be in Spain between 2 and 10 years. The pull to return will be strong for me if we have grandkids.
We don’t have an exact departure date yet but it will likely be by the end of January. Until then, we’ll be doing our best imitation of Steve Martin. Reminding ourselves, “We don’t need any of this. We don’t need this stuff…We don’t need anything. Except this cast iron pan and this pair of shoes. And that’s all. And maybe one hardback book. And our dog.”