Letting Go: Spring Cleaning

It rained over the weekend. This morning rises clear, clean, and blue. An early March day with cherry blossoms and tree buds scattered along the path.

The grandmother cottonwoods were hosting turkey vultures in their branches. It’s funny how you rarely see them here, and on the East Coast they are so common. I take these famous clean-up-the-mess birds as another sign of spring.

As I walked the crisp morning path, I heard a scraping noise. I rounded the corner and saw the outbuildings of a long-vacant home being taken down. The front-end loader reaching up and crashing through the roof bit by bit.

Suddenly, I was surrounded with other people’s memories of that home. Someone had cared about this structure: the colored-glass windows, the roof’s cupola.

I was touched by a deep inner sense of our shared experience–the sense of breaking down and clearing away the old to make way for the new, and the mix of emotions that accompany that.

My aunt recently sold the home she and my uncle (before he died) lived in for the past 15 years. That house harbored family reunions, parties, laughter, sorrow, and tears. She is, at times, overwhelmed with the gathering up and sorting. Although she knows she doesn’t need to carry much of this to her next home, even the old and the used are saturated with bittersweet recollections.

Perhaps part of the breaking down is acknowledging what’s there. It can be sadness, old camping gear, regret, photos of unknown people, fear. If we allow the bitter as well as the sweetness to surface, we will have fewer accumulations physically and emotionally.

It’s almost like giving these emotions the respect of acknowledgement allows them to dissipate instead of us trying to stuff them down into another cardboard box and carrying them to the next home. And so, our emotions too need a spring cleaning, a breaking down and clearing out, so they are released from the burden of having to be carried.

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