Saturday, February 26, 2011

Letting Go

Jonah and I both tend to be hoarders. We're not so bad that it's any kind of disorder, and our house doesn't look anything like the ones you see on TV shows such as "Hoarders." But we do collect stuff, and we do hang on to things. We both can be a bit cluttered (although I think my clutter is a little more organized than Jonah's, but clutter nonetheless).

I can't speak for Jonah, but I often hang on to things for nostalgic reasons. I have most of the cards people have given me over the years; I have a collection of mementos people have given me during shows I've been in with them; I probably have every receipt, bank statement, and billing invoice I've ever received for the last seven years; I have an immense collection of Star Wars memorabilia; I have most of the newspaper clippings about not only me, but people I know in the theatre for the last 20 years or so; I have tons of scraps of paper with various information that I intend to transfer to a more organized system...some day; I have about a hundred VHS tapes, some of which I intend to transfer to DVD; I have a collection of DVDs and books - most of which I rarely rewatch or reread; I have a box of stuffed animals from my childhood; I have about 40 or 50 photo albums; and until today, I had 16 years worth of Entertainment Weeklys that I've just hung on case (of what, I don't know).

Living with Jonah has been an eye opener (in a good way) for me. He has more clothes than anyone I know; he has tons of assorted knick knacks and collectibles, many of which are displayed, but others that just sit around waiting to have enough room to display them; he owns a myriad of decorations and craft supplies; and we have a garage full of stuff that we intend to use one day, but haven't yet.

I am in no way pointing the finger at my spouse. I am just as much of a hoarder as he is. If anything, I am pointing the finger at myself; but being surrounded by some of Jonah's clutter has really inspired me to get rid of some of my own. Jonah can do as he pleases with his own stuff, but I am going to try to make a concerted effort to get rid of a lot of my own.

I realized that for much of my life, because I travel for work, I have lived much of my life out of a few suitcases, and you know what? I have survived just fine.

So I was asking myself, why do I hang on to stuff that really has no purpose or great use in my life? My mom has said about certain things I own: "Oh, that will probably be worth money someday." But even if it is, is that why I hang on to it? My Star Wars collection, for example, is cool and actually is probably worth some decent money, but I've never collected the pieces I own for the money. I've never had any intention of selling it. I just enjoy collecting action figures and toys and other assorted memorabilia. I've never even had room to display most of it, so even though I would like to display it, that isn't really the reason, either. And really, when I'm dead and gone, of what use will it really be to anyone?

Heaven knows why I hung on to my Entertainment Weekly magazines for so long. Did I really think I would go back and reread any of them? I think I did. Well, let me say, in the 16 years I've subscribed to the magazine, I've probably gone back and reread an article three or four times. Not really a good reason to hang on to 346 pounds of magazines. I probably spent $800 or so on those magazines over the years, and today (except for fifteen or so that I wasn't ready to part with at this time) I sold them to a recycling company for $19. And you know what? Totally worth it. Getting rid of that junk felt great. Even more surprising, I thought it would be hard to let them go. It was a relief. And it has spurred me on to get rid of other things.

I'm going to get rid of the cards I never read, the tapes I never watch, the books I know I'll never read, shred the financial records that I know are of no use to me anymore, etc. It needs to happen. I long for a simpler life, filled with less clutter and extraneous crap.

There's always that nagging feeling that's my biggest obstacle to getting rid of stuff: "What if you need it someday? If you throw it away, you'll regret it because there will come a time when you need it for something." Bullcrap. If I haven't used it in the last 2, 5, 10, 20 or 35 years, why would I believe I'm ever going to need to use it in the future? And even if I do find I wish that I hadn't gotten rid of something specific...oh, well! It's gone now. Can't do much about that.

Jonah and I got rid of five bags of clothes a couple of days ago and threw out three full garbage cans of useless stuff, and it felt great! And I discovered something; it's so much easier to help somebody get rid of things they don't need when you're not personally invested in them yourself. I told Jonah I need him to help me get rid of my junk because he has no attachment to it and will see it for the junk that it is rather than the nostalgic or practical excuses I project on it.

I just rewatched the TV show "Lost." I loved it when it was on TV and loved it even more when I watched the entire series on DVD. One of the themes in the show is "letting go"; letting go of the things that hold us back or prevent us from moving on. This hoarding stuff, along with "Lost" made me think, too, of the non-material stuff we hold on to: guilt, anger, shame, embarrassment, fear, regret, etc. What stops us from moving forward, wherever that may be?

One of my biggest fears is looking stupid in front of other people, and it often cripples me. I care too much how other people perceive me, and I don't want to do anything that will make me look dumb. It gets in my way more than it helps me, and I think if I were to let it go, I would be more free and I think I would be a better actor in my career, for example.

Although I haven't let go of the LDS Church (and won't as long as it feels useful to me, which it currently does), I did let go of a lot of the shame I felt in being gay; I let go of my need to please other people and my religion at the expense of my own well-being; I let go of feeling I had to do things out of duty or obligation rather than of want or desire; I let go of the fear that my mortal and eternal life would face destruction if I gave in to allowing myself to love another man; and I am trying very hard to let go of selfishness and laziness, which I'm still working on.

But life has been so much better letting go of certain things and trusting God and in his plan for me. There are some people that need to let go of religion or people in their lives that hold them back. I say if that's what they need to do, who am I to judge? By contrast, there are people who let go of a religion or a person, but still hang on to bitterness or anger regarding their relationship towards that religion or person. Have they really let go then?

I don't judge. Some people would accuse me of holding on to a religion that does me no good; I think they're wrong, but that's their opinion. Recently, an individual came down on me for continuing to attend a church that he felt treated me badly. He was certainly entitled to that opinion, but I found it ironic that the anger and bitterness he held toward the LDS Church bound him just as tightly to that religion as he was accusing me of being bound to it. I'm quite sure I know which one of us has more peace in his life as far as the Mormon religion is concerned.

Anyway, I've really been thinking of the value of letting go of the "stuff," both material and spiritual, in our lives. I'm vowing to do more to get rid of those things that are no longer of any use (or were never of any use) in the first place.

In any case, I have a closet to clean out now. See ya!

1 comment:

Gay LDS Actor said...

About two hours after I wrote this post, I came across this article. I was not looking for it. It was the first thing that came up when I opened my web browser to AOL. It kind of reaffirms in my mind that God is trying to tell me something.