National Clear Your Clutter Day can help you get out of the past

Sara Freitag, Opinion Editor

Emptiness rotted in the pit of my stomach.  Tears welled in my eyes day after day for weeks.  I felt defeated and knew not how I would go on.


Two and a half years ago, I lost what meant more to me than any other physical possession: over a year’s worth of photographs.  As a photographer, my images are part of me. Not only are they my craft and the proof of my profession, but for years, they constituted a large sense of my identity and feeling of accomplishment.  They allowed me to dwell in the past, to find security in a false comfort and to be swept away in a narrative of frozen time.

Having not only lost an immense amount of personal images, I also lost some that were key to my professional development.  At the time, I had two choices: give up on my business which had been well-established for five years, or hold my head up and move on.  I chose the latter.

Why do I utilize this anecdote when speaking of clearing our lives of clutter?  The inability to let go of clutter indicates an individual’s predisposition to remain stagnant and stuck in the past.  The moment I chose to move on, I became unhindered by the past. A sentimental person at heart, this was not easy for me, and to be honest, the pain is still not gone.  I am not saying we all need to burn our hard drives, ditch the sentimental jewelry box from your grandma/tie clip from your grandpa or burn all your favorite clothes.

What I am saying is we must realize the past is there for us to reflect on, remember and learn from, but not to dwell in.  All we have is the present moment. Material possessions are ultimately not priority number one. Rather, the people in your life in the here and now are your most prized possessions.  Though always a process, slowly but surely, I am learning to let go of the past and dwell in the present; I encourage you to try it too.