I can honestly say I can’t remember the majority of the ‘stuff’ I’ve minimized from my life since becoming a ‘minimalist’. However, I was recently reminded of one of these things and I can say with certainty that it’s the only thing I wish I’d kept (so far).
Many of you will not know this about me, but I’m a trained yoga teacher. I did my training while finishing my Master’s Degree in 2014 during a particularly bumpy part of my life.
If you’re not part of the yoga community, you likely have never heard of the great yoga and meditation teacher, Michael Stone. And now, you likely never will. He passed away quite suddenly a couple of weeks ago. He was hospitalized, fell into a coma and was taken off life support over just four days.
Upon hearing the news, I had a very emotional and physical reaction. A lump grew in my throat, my pulse quickened and I burst into tears.
This is obviously a very powerful reaction to the passing of someone I never actually met in real life. But Michael had an incredible impact on my life that didn’t become clear to me until the very moment I heard his had ended.
You see, the very first book I read when I started practicing yoga in 2012 (pre-minimalism), was Yoga for a World Out of Balance – one of Michael’s. In the book, he explains how our lives have a part to play in the greater ecological system of our planet.
The book basically showed me that another way of living was possible, beyond mindless consumption. I just didn’t know it at the time.
Before I ever took a yoga class, or before I knew teaching would become a part of life (however, impermanent), I had Michael’s compassionate teachings in my head.
I had that book on my shelf until this year when I chose to let it go. Yoga isn’t as central to my life as it was two years ago (when I needed it most). It was painful to see the book on my shelf every day because it reminded me that I no longer had a yoga community. It also reminded me that I was no longer teaching. On a more positive note, that one book represented wonderful life-changing events that altered who I was as a person, fundamentally.
All of this came rushing back to me the instant I heard Michael had died.
I felt this impulse to run my hand over its well-worn cover and pages. To reread the notes I wrote it in along the way. And above all, to pay tribute to the great mind that changed my life.
But, of course, I couldn’t do any of that because I no longer owned it. It had been donated to a local library months earlier.
I’ve written before about dealing with sentimental items as a minimalist. While I don’t believe that memories are embedded in our things, our things can serve as anchors to spark memories we might have otherwise forgotten. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with keeping possessions that help you remember.
In that moment, I wish I had kept the book. In that moment, it wasn’t just a book about yoga.
It was the path that led me to 200 hours of laughter, tears and growth with eight incredible women.
It was a skill that forever transformed how I relate to my own body as a living, breathing tool of movement.
That’s a lot of meaning to put on a single item, but that’s what it represents to me.
Thank you, Michael, for everything you’ve given me. It’s a debt I’m sure I will never fully understand or be able to repay.
Our possessions can be powerful, as well as deeply meaningful. I’ve realized that to assume otherwise does a disservice to ourselves.Our 'things' have the meaning we give to them. And, sometimes, that's a good thing. Click To Tweet
Do you keep items of great sentimental value as reminders?
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