“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” – Lin Yutang
According to the quote above, this must be the time of my life of gaining great wisdom. I am eliminating the non-essentials and getting to the pure bliss of what my life is about.
Let’s start with my papa. No, I am not eliminating my papa, just the unfiltered items accumulated over 40 years in his home. We are supporting his transition to a smaller, downsized space. The process is rich with memories, relationships and relics of his life lived. Watching him hold each and every item, whether it be one of 53 screwdrivers from any drawer in any room, a record for the old phonograph, a photo from his college days or a knickknack bought to place on the mantle, he had a story to tell.
I would watch as his eyes lit up, sharing the event, relationship or experience that was attached to the item in hand. Now, it’s not easy helping a parent purge a lifetime of memorabilia, household items and ‘things that might get used one day’. And yet, what became clear to me, was that regardless of whether he kept the item that ignited the story, he had all those emotions, memories, feelings and wisdom inside of him. It didn't matter if he kept the item or sent it to the good will, recycling bin or mailed it to a friend to share in the memory, what dad had, was the essence of that experience already within him.
His work, our work, of eliminating the ‘things’ that just take up space is completely freeing. After having unloaded two households of things not used for 20-30 years, he is lighter. He has more time for golf and drums and visiting with friends. His wisdom is shining brightly after eight decades of life. To see the smile on his face as he sets up his drums with his band or tells of the tales of visiting family and friends in Montana, I see the lightness in his life and the freedom of his newfound wisdom.
Every day I take a closer look at my life as to what truly is essential for me. For me, fresh food, moving my body, connecting to my family and dear friends are all essential to me. The non-essentials I am eliminating include, but not limited to the ‘shoulds’ based on other people’s values, household items that don’t serve me, and events/errands or shopping that ultimately doesn’t add to what is essential for me in my life.
My wish for us, let’s not wait until we are at the eight-decade mark of our life to eliminate the non-essentials. Let’s use our wisdom now, getting to the heart of our life lived in joy and peace.