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How Much Of This Do You Need To Age Well? - Todays Gray MattersTodays Gray Matters

How Much Of This Do You Need To Age Well?

 

Have you ever gone crazy with a new hobby? Did you go out and buy way more stuff than you needed to support this hobby. You didn’t call it stuff. You called it equipment or supplies, something that made it sound not only important but also necessary. I’m guilty of this. Over the past 38 years I’ve accumulated clown supplies, magic apparatus, books about puppetry, you name it.  I started this process of acquiring equipment when I was in my 20s, then got busy raising kids and earning graduate degrees and didn’t have time to manage my growing ever growing collection properly. Frankly, it really got out of hand.

Lately I’ve been asking myself what I’m realistically going to use out of my huge collection. There are magic tricks I’ve never learned, books I’ve never read, things I bought for one reason or another but don’t remember now. Having cleaned out my parents’ house and found fabric that was 50 years old and never cut, yarn from what must have been an entire flock of sheep, and broken tools, I don’t want my daughters to have to decide what to do with my things. I’ve sold, given away, or thrown away what seems like a ton of useful magic and clown supplies. Oh, I kept my Tarbell Encyclopedia of Magic, all my balloon and face painting books, juggling supplies, and stilts. Those are things I might actually still use.

My house is still cluttered with many of my parents’ things. Some of them are important to me, but many are things I don’t even recognize. I’m still going through them, considering what’s best to do with them. Do they have special meaning to someone else in the family? Are they basically just junk that my parents valued for sentimental reasons I don’t know? Are they truly hidden treasures? How do I reconcile the value these things had to my parents and my ambivalence toward the same items?

The big question on my mind is, “Are these things contributing to aging well, or are they encumbering me and depleting my energy?” What do I gain by having all this stuff? What do I lose by letting it go? What do I gain by letting it go? What does any of it have to do with aging well?

How are you changing your life so that you can age well? What does aging well even mean? I suppose the answer to the last question changes over time as we gain more life experience and our priorities change. Today aging well for me means having friends, family, good health, and enough. I don’t need to be rich, to have too many things. I need enough to eat, enough to keep me warm and safe, and not more. Well, maybe my excess number of cats (4). They’re beyond enough but I got them 10 years ago and I’ll keep them all.

Furry friends bring warmth to my life.

Furry friends bring warmth to my life.

One comment

  1. Marsha, you are such a great writer. Or maybe it is that I can relate so much to what you write since I have apparently walked many of the same paths you have. You hit the nail on the head for me when you wrote: “My house is still cluttered with many of my parents’ things. Some of them are important to me, but many are things I don’t even recognize. I’m still going through them, considering what’s best to do with them. Do they have special meaning to someone else in the family? Are they basically just junk that my parents valued for sentimental reasons I don’t know? Are they truly hidden treasures? How do I reconcile the value these things had to my parents and my ambivalence toward the same items? The big question on my mind is, “Are these things contributing to aging well, or are they encumbering me and depleting my energy?” What do I gain by having all this stuff? What do I lose by letting it go? What do I gain by letting it go? What does any of it have to do with aging well?”

    Exactly! You put down in black and white what my heart could not speak. How DO I reconcile these questions? Like you, I don’t wish my kids to feel like many of us have felt when it comes time to go through my things (plus things inherited from my deceased parents, deceased brother, in-laws, etc. on top of that.) As irrational and unreasonable as it sounds, could it be that on some unconscious level we feel if it meant something to our folks it should mean something to us also? Or that we are betraying something that meant something to him/her and therefore the person him/herself? I remember my mother commenting one time when I asked why she kept something, “If someone cared enough to give it to me, I will definitely keep it and remember that kind gesture.” She was very kind and well loved by many. Sure enough she kept many things I had given her also but oh, how I wish my psyche had not heard her say that! 🙂 I was speaking to an 85 year old neighbor gentleman the other day who lost his wife about the same time I moved my mother into assisted living. When I asked him about all of their possessions and what he was going to do he simply shrugged and said, “We went through our parents’ stuff as did our parents with their parents’ stuff. I guess when the time comes my kids can deal with it.” But I agree with you, what a wonderful gift it would be for our surviving family members if WE went through our own stuff so that our kids would not have to do it. Even if my parents had done this they still would STILL have had plenty of stuff for me to deal with, ha. So what is the problem that we can’t break this apparent perpetual cycle?

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