Note: This is a guest post by Rose Lounsbury.
I’m not a relationship expert. I got lucky in love, married for nearly 17 years to my hometown sweetheart. But I do know something about certain kinds of relationships: the kinds we develop with stuff.
Some stuff is easy to part with. Freebies, for example. These are the one-night stands of stuff. That key chain from your insurance agent? You can probably toss that sucker in the trash with only a twinge of sweet regret. (It was a moment of madness when you plucked it from the dish in his office, after all.)
But other items give us pause. These are the kinds of items we’ve developed long relationships with. Items like… my piano.
I had my piano for years. My parents had it before me, and my grandparents before them. The story goes that my grandfather bought the piano for $50 from my mom’s college sorority house when they upgraded their piano in the 1960s. (Just imagine being the guy turned down by an entire houseful of sorority sisters, ouch!)
The piano was a nice guy, humble, no frills. But dang, was he big and heavy! I let him hang around my house for about a decade. I knew things weren’t working out for us, but I just couldn’t bring myself to have that awkward, “It’s not you, it’s me” conversation.
Why? Two big reasons:
Reason #1: I can play the piano
The key word here is can. As Yoda would say, Do or do not, there is no can. (That quote may not be exactly right, but I earned major points from my husband for attempting to quote Star Wars.)
Yes, I can play this piano. But do I? Not so much. When faced with a moment of free time, I usually choose to go for a walk or read a book. We’re only given so much time in life and we get to choose how to spend that precious time. I don’t choose to play the piano. And that’s okay.
Reason #2: My kids might want to play the piano
The key word here is might. As every kid who ever took piano lessons would say, “But I don’t wanna practice!!” I have no guarantees that my kids will ever want to play the piano, and keeping it for that future possibility is like keeping a trapeze in my backyard in case one of them wants to become an acrobat. (Note: Given the suggestion that acrobatics is a future career possibility, I’m sure my kids would immediately commence high-pressure trapeze requests, so let’s keep this on the down-low.)
To combat this “What if…?” fear, I nudge budding musicians in my household toward trumpets, violins, and the like. All these instruments are portable yet still quench the musical thirst. And if my kids ever insist on playing the piano, I will count on good karma to bring another free piano into my path.
Speaking of good karma…
It was a fateful Tuesday afternoon. I took a deep breath, snapped a picture of the piano, and posted it for free on a local buy/sell/trade Facebook group. Within 10 minutes, one lucky lady had herself a new piano to love, and I began imagining more open space in my living room.
I remember the day the piano movers came to part us forever. I watched them carefully carry him down the front steps toward the truck. I felt my heart squeeze as they loaded him onto the lift, knowing that the moment he disappeared into that truck bed, I would never see him again.
I almost ran outside and breathlessly yelled, “Wait! I’ve changed my mind! Let’s stay together!”
But this wasn’t a romantic movie. It wasn’t raining. There was no orchestra playing an emotional soundtrack.
It was time for us to go our separate ways.
At first, I struggled with the urge to rebound. The space in my living room looked so bare! If you’ve ever gotten out of a long relationship, you know what I mean. I need something, anything, to fill this empty space! I considered cruising the scene at local piano bars or seeking lonely pianos online, (Pianomatch.com, anyone?)
But I stayed true to my minimalist ideals and allowed the space to just be. After a while, it didn’t seem so empty. Soon after that, I started to like it.
I was free.
Is there a stuff relationship in your life that is going nowhere? Are you holding on to things that no longer reflect how you choose to spend your time? Are you keeping things because you hope they will become useful in the future?
We all know this, but it bears repeating:
We do not live in the past or the future. We live now.
I urge you…
Let go of stuff relationships that are holding you back from enjoying the present moments of your life.
Take the plunge, make a clean break, and open up to the beautiful possibilities of open space.
Rose Lounsbury is a simplicity coach, author, speaker, and still-sane triplet mama who helps busy people live happier lives by owning less stuff. You can read more of her words on minimalism, simplicity, and intentional living at roselounsbury.com or get to know her on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.