The realization that Boomer-ville is now on the border of Senior-hood often sneaks up on us. And when we truly get it, that we’ve moved into a different position on a whole number of fronts, what to do about our possessions, what attitude to take about the things we have amassed throughout our lives? As with other issues we may find a need to confront, time for a re-frame!
For many years, I was an avid collector of Victorian era antiques, furniture and decorative items, loathe to parting with anything. Rarely did I do any selling, even though I worked in the antique auction business for a while. I was caught in a cycle of acquisition, which did not even begin to change until I was offered a great opportunity for a new living situation that would have required a lot of downsizing. However, I chose not to go for it, and learned, the hard way, that my ‘things’ had become an impediment to personal growth. In effect, I had placed them above my own well-being!
No wonder then that I wanted to address this topic, which I believe to be fairly endemic among Boomers, as part of my book, “Going for Excelsior: Thriving in Seniorhood.” This excerpt offers a clear-eyed view of the problem, and possible solutions, although each of you will also have your own. Ultimately, I decided to pare, as one would an apple, and keep only what has the most meaning and/or decorative wallop.
“YOU, and I mean all of you of a certain age, tend to rail about your possessions, seeing them in a variety of ways. Identify, stupefy, objectify. Interesting choice of words, you say? Well, let’s take them one at a time. Identify: so many people like to think that their stuff is them, a reflection of self. No, it isn’t. Whatever you may have amassed is simply a reflection of the thought-chains you wear around your neck, permeated, as they are, with creativity. So, let’s be clear: dis-identify with your things. They are not living creatures and can always be replaced, often with items that are even more striking or unique.
Possessions come and go. Indeed, we can never truly possess anything. Think of it this way: we merely have things in our safekeeping from time to time. Don’t get hung up on what you own. Never say never based on material concerns! Ebb and flow; that is the way the Universe works in terms of our stuff. Now some of you may become stupefied by your possessions, overwhelmed you would say, especially those with pack rat tendencies. ‘Clean, lean and just a little bit mean,’ that is the attitude to have vis-à-vis objects. If they fill no void, if they are superfluous, they must be sent packing. Again, do not objectify things; do not imbue them with life. What I mean here is becoming overly focused on your personal belongings, pursuing them, amassing them, grasping them in your hands. There’s a bit of the miser in us all, that willingness to fall prey to collecting for the sake of collecting alone. Allow some space between your possessions, at least theoretically. Never become possessed, either, by what you own. Remember, we are nothing more than stewards, testing our own worth through the use of symbols, the things we supposedly see as ours.
In the letting-go process, clarity dawns. In our latter years, especially, we may want to lighten the load, to free ourselves from the burden of stuff. Consider it I say, in the nicest, most caring of ways. Be gentle with yourself as you make decisions about what to discard, or rather offer to others as an opportunity for something that’s been of use to you to move on and, hopefully, be of use to someone else. That is the nature of possessions; at some point they always move on.”
A life-long student of metaphysics and transformation, Wayne has both taught in public school and been a personal property appraiser. Wayne Hatford now resides in Santa Rosa, California where he and the Valentino essence continue their collaboration.
His latest book is Going for Excelsior: Thriving in Seniorhood.