Paring Down to Take Hold of More

Since my first Camino, I have looked at stuff differently, and I have desired to own far less of it. I purchase only what I need, and I regularly go through what I already own, weeding out what I no longer require. This is a process. I have found it takes several passes before I arrive at the place where what I own and what I need are in sync with each other.

During the first go round, I will pare down, but I still find I can convince myself that some of the things that are seldom (read in this never) used, might still be needed in the future, so I hold on to them.

A few months will pass and I will find that somehow the paired down box, closet, or shelf will still feel like too much. I will sift through it a second time. It is then that I find I am able to let go of far more. The reality of not having missed what I released on the first go round gives me the capacity to let go of what I once determined I need to hold on to “just in case”. The result is the house feels lighter, and I feel lighter.

Recently, I have noticed I am beginning to make the move from releasing what I do not need, to desiring to let go of those things that require my attention. I do not simply want to get rid of those things for which I no longer have any use. I want to weed out those things that demand my time and energy, which are robbing me of the opportunity to give my attention to the things that are truly important to me. These are the kind of things which provide value, but not enough to warrant the effort they call for. But because of the value they do have, they are much harder to release. There is a real cost involved.

The challenge is wrapping my mind around the reality that the cost of letting these things go is really an investment in the life I desire to live. To make this kind of investment, there has to be a clear picture of the desired life, and an understanding of the rhythms of life that will actually allow you to live it. These become the filters for the decisions you will make about the things, activities, and relationships which fill your life. They help you know what you need hold on to or let go of. It moves the thought process beyond what I need and don’t, to what moves me forward and what doesn’t.

Getting rid of what I do not need makes me lighter and gives me space. This is wonderful. It allows me to breathe. Getting rid of the things that demand my time and energy without moving me forward, makes me more focused and gives me the opportunity to become. I am coming to discover both are important.

The gift of the Camino is, for a short period of time you are invited to walk only carrying what you need, and lay off anything that takes the time and energy need to move towards the destination to which you have been called. This is a purposeful way to walk and to live.

Given this reality, it might be worth asking a few questions. What do you not need that you can let go of? Are you willing? What needs to go first?

It might be also be worth taking some time to pause and think about the life you were called to live. Is there anything that you own, that demands your time and attention, which is keeping you from this life? What would it be like to let go of these things? What might you be investing in if you did so? What would be made possible in the new found space?

As you hold these questions, I also invite you to give yourself some grace. Remember, it is a process. You don’t have to let go of it all at once. But I have a sneaky suspicion, if you are willing to let go of a few things, they will lead you onward, to let go of a few more, and these layers of letting go will lead to a much lighter, spacious, purposeful, and life-giving existence.

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