Museums are places people may want to visit for education or entertainment or both. However, the onset of spring brings to mind another type of museum that must be dismantled for your own sake.
Thanks to author Elizabeth Gilbert’s recent Facebook post, I’m now aware of such a thing as “a museum of grief.” She reported a conversation with a friend who experienced relief upon filling a garbage bag with old letters, photos and diaries. Perhaps you’ve already done this. Do you regret it? I don’t.
I can still recall standing in my driveway, tossing my own “heart junk” into a Dumpster meant for the innards of a pre-renovation house. There was no place to put things I needed, never mind things that made me miserable at first sight. Of course, there was another little voice screaming, “Noooooooooo!” But I didn’t listen to that voice because I knew better than to store bad memories like a cabinet of torture I might use when anxiety strikes, or I feel the need to revisit my pain for whatever perverse reason.
Gilbert looks upon such things as not only tools of the trade, but product, hence her famous journal of travel chronicles. Because it’s one of my favorite books, I’m happy to report that Eat Pray Love, known as “one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia,” generated about $135 million in sales and hit the best seller list. I didn’t love the movie (starring Julia Roberts), but it didn’t diminish the book’s positive impact on me.
Imagine someone suggesting Gilbert might consider tossing out what may be perfectly good material for a book. Unimaginable! Yet she had to acknowledge the profoundness of it. Her friend expressed great lightness from the simple act of decluttering. The possibilities of creating a feng shui disaster by storing bad chi (energy) in the house and remaining tethered to the past made Gilbert go through her own heart’s junk.
She called them “tragic diaries of awful times…the repetitive chronicle of my depression…love letters and gifts from men who had broken my heart. All accumulated evidences of shame and sadness.”
I can’t think of one good reason to keep any of that. And I haven’t! It’s unhealthy! Remember Jim Morrison’s morose lyric, “The future’s uncertain and the end is always near”? It may be morose, but it’s true. Why spend a single moment recalling how someone broke your heart? So you can be sure it won’t happen again? Really? We all know relationships are not that simple. No matter how you slice it, you don’t need to keep documents representing unhappiness. They are a threat to your mental health and well-being. Shred these sorrowful events if you have to. You’ve been there and done that, perhaps even learned a lesson or two, and now here you are. Closure gives you license to start fresh.
Here’s an affirmation for the new season: “I release the winter of my discontent and choose to lose myself in that beautiful springtime green I’ve anticipated for months.”
That’s what spring represents: Rebirth. Reconnection. Cleansing. Growth. None of these are propagated by the bitterness of the past. If you want to curate a museum of memories conducive to happiness, abundance and success, leave the grief on the curb for weekly pick-up.