The Art of Leaving

Choosing things to leave behind

Along this road, I will no longer walk.

The sweet, serenade of the Robin from the treetops or the monotone dirge of crows across empty, winter fields will no longer be mine to hear.

Golden, yellow flowers dipped in the late evening sun or bashful dog roses hiding in hedgerows will no longer be my pleasure to find.

The season marking out its changes on the oak tree by the gate will no longer be mine to watch.

The found serenity in the comfort of this little piece of nature will no longer be mine to absorb.

For now, the sights and sounds and feelings are packed for safekeeping in my memory.

As I must leave…

 

Is there an art to leaving?

I was wondering if there is an art to leaving? Leave where you may ask? There are lots of things that we can leave, for example, a place, a job or a relationship. I have just left the place in which I have lived for the last seven years, so I pondered the question as I made preparations to leave. I am sure somewhere there will be wise words about the need to come to a place of acceptance that a change is coming. This change will mean moving on, never to return. I can come back and visit this place that has meant so much to me and invitations have been left with welcoming doors open. Yet to be a visitor requires a very different mindset from someone who once belonged to a place, I think.

Can you truly belong somewhere?

As life caught me in its adventure, I could not help but change. The experience of the journey has expanded possibilities and broadened my horizons. Exposure to new ideas, a different perspective and a wider field of vision, has ultimately reshaped the person I once was. Therefore, returning to the place I once belonged is impossible because I am no longer the person who left. It is an evolving stranger who now returns. This is neither good nor bad. It just is. It is the process that will happen should you yourself choose to move from one physical, mental or emotional place to another and why coming to a place of acceptance about in the process is so important.

What to take and what to leave?

This time of leaving has involved me in streamlining my possessions quite considerably. I was surprised by how much ‘stuff’ I had accumulated in the seven years since I had left my hometown. The biggest question I faced was what should be kept and what should be left? Some things were very easy, for example, the iron. It has always been somewhat of a joke that the iron and I never really got along and therefore spent the minimum of time in each other’s company. I was not sad to leave it in the reclamation yard. Other decisions were simply practical. Some of my possessions would no longer be used or needed in the place I was going to. So they were offered to my niece, who is setting up a home of her own, or taken to a local charity. However, some possessions had memories entangled with them and so the decision as to what to do with them was much more challenging and difficult.

How did I prioritise?

To help me make a decision, I turned to the principles of Hygge. Hygge is a Danish concept, which is about feeling comfortable and happy. I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of Denmark when I stayed there over the summer. Something about the style and culture felt uplifting. So I began to investigate. Hygge would value a sense of connection, simplicity and joy. I felt these were simple principles upon which to make some difficult decisions. Therefore, I would keep the belongings linked to memories that still brought me joy and continued to have a positive influenced my journey. Let me illustrate my point with this example. I kept a boldly, coloured vase with a chipped edge because it had belonged to my Grandma. The memories the vase generates still have a positive influence on my life and that’s why I choose to keep it. However, when I began sorting through a collection of cards and messages, the memories that surfaced clouded my heart with sadness. These things were thrown away. They served no purpose in my life right now.

Fond Memories or dangerous obsession?

Taking this time and streamlining the possessions and associated memories that I would hold on to was an interesting process because it made me wonder, at what point do fond memories become a dangerous obsession with the past? There appears to be a longing in some parts of society for ‘the good old days’ and a desire to return or reconstruct them. I will admit to finding this troubling. For me, returning to the past is the stuff of Dr Who and the realms of science fiction. Time only ever moves forward and looking only to the past means that the present moment is in danger of being compared unfavourably and the opportunities it affords missed. The good old days are exactly that – good, old and over. Desperately trying to revive the past will only stagnate the future because ‘the now’ cannot move forward.

My Conclusions

Do I think there is an art to leaving? Yes, I think there is. I think the art of leaving is in choosing carefully the memories with a joyful connection to the past, that allows freedom to live right now. Those good, warm and cosy memories that do not chain you to the past nor the desire to recreate it, but are the seeds of creativity that move you forward.

Why not read this poem written after a walk one misty morning for your 5 mins in nature goodness!? 

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