Throughout the past couple of months I have been going through a large old storage unit with all of my family’s belongings. It has been sitting there for 8 years. I have no other immediate family and there are no other children or grandchildren so I am the end of the line. I had avoided that storage unit all this time for a multitude of reasons but finally it had become time to deal with it. I was ready.
As you might imagine, it has been quiet a journey going through it all… this enormous review of my life and the lives of those who came before me and that I loved. Emotionally it has included a whole array of experiences such as laughing, crying, discovering and remembering. It has also been quite transformative and, as I have reached the end of the process, quiet freeing.
One of the biggest things, beyond the emotions, to deal with has been What-Do-I-Keep-and-What-Do-I-Let-Go-Of? Since there is no one else to leave it to and therefore I have no responsibility to make sure that I preserve it “for someone else” it has been completely my choice. I have been, for years, a very minimalist person in how I live. I don’t collect tons of possessions; I am very organized and uncluttered. Every year I go even through what I do have and give things away to maintain that. However, shedding the not-so-current past was a whole different process.
So there I was in this 10’ x 15’ storage unit filled to the brim with stuff. I first sorted and then started distributing them … shredding papers and taking them to recycling centers, taking books to a used book store, taking vinyl albums to a used record store, setting up some unique china and silver to sell, everything else that I could recycle to various recycling facilities and all other usable things to charities, etc. But then the moment came when I had to deal with the BIGGEST of all my decision making … because in the middle of all of that stuff, I found ALL of MY OLD ART!
Endless journals of art ideas, writing and poetry, sketchbooks, paintings, sculpture, mixed media pieces, photos and negatives and film. Every thing possible that either my parents had saved or that I saved. It ranged from my childhood through my early 40s, when I relocated and sold my parents house. It seemed like, of all my previous possessions, I had done the best job of holding onto my Art.
So that was when the storage-emptying project suddenly became much more intense. I had taken my whole family’s past, including important legal documents and photos, and had condensed it into a few large plastic bins. It was pretty simple and logical up until then. I had moved through the emotional ties and let it go. But MY ART was a whole different world.
In the first couple of boxes I opened, I was horrified to find all of my old films ruined … there had been a water leak and in the process they had literally been destroyed. Old Bolex 35 mm film reels, hand spliced original films and final processed films … all gone to decay and mold. I quickly thought, after the original grief, that the leak had spared me from making any decisions about my films … it was what it was. The rest became an adventure … in each drawing, painting, print and sculpture there was every memory of why and how it got created. I found myself reading through journals and flipping through sketchbooks for hours.
O, and let’s not forget the art of all my artist friends and lovers and the all of collaborative work I did together with other artists. That was another trip down memory lane that I indulged in as I remembered how each piece got created and made and perhaps given to me. Holding each piece I experienced not just the memories but also the energy of the piece … still vibrating as if it was created yesterday.
In my current life I am not attached to my Art anymore … once it is created I immediately release it into someone else’s hands. But there, in that storage room, I was flooded with ATTACHMENT to each piece from my past. In my current life I am also so content with myself and where I am at this stage of my life, there is no need to backtrack. But faced with all of that old Art there was this pull to return to the past as if it was magical in some way. I was so happy sitting there surrounded by all of those old creations.
There was an exhilaration of sorts that finally occurred as I realized that each piece had clearly led me to where I was now. There were even pieces of the puzzle of my life that I had forgotten and the “ah-ha” that went with it as I rediscovered it. I was reminded of all of my bold and brash and wild moments throughout the years. Completion! I allowed myself to enjoy and delve in to the whole process. I am now complete with it all.
The final piece to handle is to go back and finish the physical work with the Art. I have decided I will take photos of each piece of art for myself. Then, for some of them, I will put little sticky notes telling me where they will go and deliver them. I will give some them to particular people; give some of them to charity for auctions or for them to do what they want with them and I will give anything reusable to some of my artist friends that I know will appreciate being able to reuse the materials, canvases, etc.
Some of them (so many works-in-progress) along with the journals and sketchbooks I will wave goodbye to and simply release from the planet (I have planned the ceremony – I love release ceremonies). They stayed around long enough to share with me what they needed to share so that I can incorporate them into who I am now. They will not serve me or anyone else any further purpose. They are free and I am free. It has already begun to open up a space in me for new things to be created.
What about you? What have you done with your old Art? Is there a pile in your closet, under the bed, or at your parent’s home or some storage unit? Have you gone back and revisited it lately?
I encourage you to do so if you haven’t. It is a journey that may be filled with hidden treasures of hints, clues and insights from the past. That past may be begging to be completed for you too … with a promise of a possible fresh new streak of creativity in the process.
I am now off to the storage unit for the last time. 🙂
Feel free to share with me … as always I am thrilled with your feedback and any stories you may have … it is in our connecting and sharing with one another that I am always left so inspired!