Sitting cross-legged on the wooden floor, I try to shut out the piles of boxes surrounding me and focus on the item in my hand. Just the feel of it is enough to bring on a flood of memories: the smell of the campfire, the sounds of my friends’ voices as they chatted, the taste of chocolate cake and vanilla pudding icing. Images of my twenty-fifth birthday party begin to overlay the image of my bedroom in this new house.
A moment I had forgotten springs back to life as I flip through the pages of the scrapbook, reading the notes so lovingly written and collected just for me. One page contains notes I added a few years after that party. I smile through tears at the words of thanks from youth group kids after our last trip together. The boxes seem to press in closer, but I decide they can wait until I’ve completed my trip down Memory Lane.
For the last two years, most of my possessions have been in storage while I rented a furnished room. As I write this, I’m still unpacking in the new house I now share with a friend. There’s room to breathe here, and I’ve finally rescued belongings from a cramped storage unit. While unpacking always seems to take forever, it’s been a delight to rediscover what I own and the memories that accompany each item.
I’ve found books and articles of clothing I’d forgotten. My jewelry and scarf collections have doubled in number. I can finally satisfy my craving to re-read the Harry Potter series. My room will be decorated with my pictures and set up in a way that feeds my soul.
Unpacking things that have been in storage for two years also lends itself to a certain pragmatism. I’ve thrown away stacks of old papers I once considered important. Boxes and bags full of clothes I haven’t worn are headed to yard sales and thrift stores. I even purged my bookshelf of books I know I’ll never read again. If I’ve lived without it for two years and wasn’t excited to find it again, it’s not worth keeping.
Of course, I have new purchases to make, too. I gave away most of my furniture when I moved two years ago, so it’s time to get a new desk. I bought a washer and dryer (which made me feel like a real adult). After two years in storage, my mismatched set of pots and pans needs to be replaced. Plus, it’s fun to add new things that belong just to this house.
This moving experience is giving me a new perspective on the idea of moving into the new year. January always seems to be a time of reflection and preparation: reflecting on the memories and events of the past, preparing for the events of the future. What if we approached this process of reflection and preparation for a new year the way we approach moving into a new home?
We’d sort through what we have, determining what should come with us and what could stay behind. We might find what we’ve lost in forgotten corners, rediscovering the joy they’ve brought us. We could choose to let go of what we thought was important but was just weighing us down. We could make a list of what we don’t have yet but will need in the new year. Once the sorting is done, we’d be ready to pack up what’s coming with us and make the move.
Then the unpacking would begin. As we settled into the new year, we’d figure out where everything should go, how to set things just right. We could place those delightful items where we’ll see them. We could rest knowing we’ve already eliminated the junk. And we could put new items to good use.
How are you doing with moving into this new year? Give yourself the chance to do some sorting and unpacking. You never know what you’ll discover.
Photograph © Karolina, used with permission