The Michelangelo lesson: carve away the excess to reveal the essential you

david-by-michelangeloThe story goes that Michelangelo carved the beautiful statue of David from a single piece of marble, chipping away all that was NOT David until David emerged, freed from the stone.

Whether the story is true or apocryphal is less important than the inspiration it provides those of us who are downsizing.

All you have to do is let go of that which is not the current you, and VOILA! the new free you is born.

It sounds so simple and obvious, when put like that. And it’s so much more challenging in practice.

I once had a feng shui client whose adolescent daughter was ADHD, depressed and anxious.  When I visited their home I could see why (quite apart from any underlying biological issues). The family had STUFF everywhere. You couldn’t sit in the living room without having to push 3 teddy bears off a chair. And the girl’s room had so many playthings that you couldn’t walk across the room without tripping on something. The wife was a nervous wreck, and the marriage was going badly.

The client had a good reason for wanting to keep each thing. Finally I suggested that the family try an emergency intervention: a vacation from their stuff.

This meant renting an unfurnished place in the neighborhood and moving over there with only the most essential things they needed to conduct their lives – beds, sheets, chairs, table, pots and pans, hair dryer, a couple weeks worth of clothes.

They weren’t to return to their home for at least a month.  Once their nervous systems calmed down they could go back and retrieve no more than a few things each per week. After a couple of months of that they were to hire someone to help them offload about 75% of what remained in the house. Then they could move back home.

Of course they didn’t take my advice, but if you’ve ever gone on a month’s camping trip or other rustic vacation, you know exactly how freeing it feels to have almost nothing. You make do. You’re free to be yourself, to change directions at any moment, to fly.

If I had sufficient funds to maintain two places, I’d love to engineer my pare-down process that way.  Move to a new place taking only the essentials and moving other stuff gradually. Thus detached, it would be so much easier to let that stuff go….

And then VOILA! Joy would emerge. Unfettered.


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Filed under Baby steps, Downsizing, Emotional issues

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