Now those memories come back to haunt me
they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse
-Bruce Springsteen “The River”
You won’t always succeed. Some dreams don’t come true.
That is a harsh truth, but only by accepting it can you free yourself from the myth that failure is always within your control.
While many other decluttering advice-givers talk about mementos being the hardest Things to purge, I argue there is an even more difficult category – your Autobiography of Stuff.
Your Autobiography of Stuff ties you not to the present, but to versions of yourself that existed in your past or you hope/hoped would exist in the future. A shelf of college textbooks for a field you never worked in. A box of art supplies for the painting hobby you never quite found time for. The language-learning tapes you are ‘just about to’ start, any day now…
Aside from the obvious harm – clutter, disarray, chaos, cleaning to be done – I also have a distinct feeling of failure with stuff.
The many years I dreamed of being a full-time film writer left me with scripts and stories I wrote that never found a public space. Even a one-act play cluttered up a drawer in my house long after I left theatre.
Projects unfinished. Hobbies I put money into but didn’t seem to pay off in enjoyment. Papers from my college days.
These are not Things that bring the ‘real you’ any value. They belong to your imaginary friend.
They belong to an imaginary you.
And that you is not real.
You are you right now.
Allow yourself to accept the inconsequential failures that are part of life. Let go and open your life to the new dreams that will come true.