White Elephants Bearing Emotional Baggage

Yesterday I wrote the words, “Decluttering is all tied up with relationships and often those relationships are with folks we’ll never see again.” Sometimes it is hard to understand that permanence.

I used to chair the Music division of an after-school program. The program’s divisions were Music, Art, Piano Lab, Suzuki, Orff, and Dance and the chairs of these divisions formed the faculty arm of the program’s directive circle. Deep political, pedagogical and artistic alliances formed and one of my closest friendships developed with the guy who ran the Piano Lab.

He was a music composer and over the years I worked hard to bring some of his work to the performance stage.

My friend also taught piano lessons out of a studio in his home and he was particularly popular with ladies of uncertain age who brought their children, or sometimes themselves, for music lessons.

One of these ladies grew concerned about the state of his waiting room and set to work to craft a lovely slipcover for the most worn out sofa.  My friend was completely incapable of refusing the rather astonishing gift and more than a bit disturbed by the notion that just maybe her interests lay beyond their music lessons.

Then my friend announced that he was soon to pull up stakes and head off in non-musical directions in a distant state and I found my own self much more devastated than one expects to be at the severing of a merely professional liaison!

As he was dispersing his local effects, he gave me that slipcovered sofa which I accepted knowing full well that I nurtured a faint hope that our bond might have some sustaining elements.

A few years later it was my own turn to pull up stakes.  And although I hired a truck for the first time, I already knew that one should not pack it without some thought for what is to come at the far end of a move. So, fully aware that I was acting upon the death of that old faint hope, I loaded that slipcovered sofa into the back of the truck last and in the early morning light paused briefly to drop it off at Goodwill.

Thirty years later, and after much more experience of the deep emotional tides of decluttering, I realized that along with that sofa, my long ago friend had entrusted to me for safe-keeping his guilt and confusion about his relationship with that student and perhaps, if vanity may be allowed, with me!

So in the faint light of that long-ago dawn I had relinquished custody of a whole lot more than a sofa.

Sometimes, we just need to let things go.

(The featured image, here, obviously can’t be of that particular slipcovered sofa.)

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Author: American Declutterer

I've had three careers, moved among thirteen states, and cleared four houses after loved ones moved on. Sometimes you just have to look at all the stuff and laugh. Then get back to discarding.

2 thoughts on “White Elephants Bearing Emotional Baggage”

    1. Yes, there are the stories, but also a whole tangle of unidentified emotional STUFF. Many of us have dark spaces full of a lot of stuff that is tightly bound with unresolved issues; many of which perhaps shouldn’t be unbound just yet. It’s a lot more than finding the time, energy and helpers…

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