A Closer Look at Attachment

At yesterday's clutter busting workshop, one of the participants brought in a box of books. One was a copy of a Ray Bradbury book. He said he had a number of other Bradbury books back at his apartment. He said he had them because they are considered to be classics. I asked if he is reading them and he said no. His desire to keep those particular books was not because he enjoyed reading them, but because of other people's feelings about them. It's hard to not be swayed by other's opinions about the value of things. I find this often to be the case with books. My clients often own books that other people have told them they need to read. That enthusiasm makes them buy the book. But they either read very little and stop. Or they never read it and it takes up space in their home.

I said to the person in the workshop, "The most important thing is you make your home a place that suits and supports you. You can't control the world outside your home, but you can choose what means something to you in your living space. Otherwise these little things add up and they create a distraction in your home that makes you uncomfortable. Do you want to read the Bradbury's?" He easily said no.

He also had some science and math books that he wasn't reading. He'd read them some years ago. He didn't want to reread them. He also didn't want to let them go. He said he had a big box full back at his apartment. When he talked about them, there was a sadness. I mentioned that. He said that his father was the inspiration for reading the books. His father had passed away. Without my saying much, he understood that he associated his father with the books. Having the books around, was in some way like still having his father around. He was surprised that he was still feeling grief.

I said, "Sometimes my clients hang onto things that they are no longer using because it reminds them of a person who has died, or left them in some way. There is often a heavy sadness about it. It's not the person, but a reminder that they are no longer around. There is a feeling of not wanting to let go of the person, though they are gone. I find that when people let these things go, the love for the person goes from the thing they associate it with, back into their heart. It's a deeper feeling. You let go of missing the person, and their presence fills your heart." He decided to let those books go.