Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. – George Bernard Shaw
Yesterday my husband found me sitting on the floor of our office debating the future of a pile of alphabet magnets. A pile of alphabet magnets that I had not seen in 6 years. A pile of alphabet magnets I had forgotten I had.
For one brief moment of madness, I was debating packing them.
Two contradictory things happen when you commit to getting rid of almost everything and starting again: you come face-to-face with your former selves and you have to pack for a self you don’t know yet.
As I pack these boxes, it is my former self that I am discarding. The things that in other circumstances I might have kept for another 10, 20, 30 years, are now going into charity boxes or finding new homes via ebay. And with every pass through a room or across a shelf, something else feels less important. Something that a month ago was definitely coming, goes into a pile, not making the cut-off criteria of: do I love it enough to ship it? Does it match who I want to be?
I won’t be unpacking these boxes. My future self will be. The self that opens these boxes will be one that is no longer wrapped up in the tying up of a great big job. She will have nearly a year of living without this stuff under her belt. She will have committed to a place. Will my future self be grateful for the things collected in her previous life? Will she even recognise them? Or will she wonder what the hell I was thinking putting these things in a box and shipping them across the world?
And how do I make those choices for her?
The ironic thing is that we thought we had made a decision to change our lives. What we have found is that there is no single decision that changes your life. A change like this – just like real life – is made up of thousands of small, seemingly insignificant decisions. And in the end, you can only get there by making one decision at a time, doing the best you can, and knowing your future self will understand.
At least I hope she will.
Because the alphabet magnets aren’t coming.
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