143 Days ’til 40: Unlocking the Future…. by throwing away keys to the past….

01 Oct

The blog entry that I share below was written for another blog of mine over five years ago.  As I was reviewing this blog, I found it and felt that it was worth sharing – so here it is!

Unlocking the Future…

by throwing away keys to the past…

May 29, 2007

In the midst of all the craziness of this time in life, I have found moments of great reflection. I am currently packing up my office, filled with great memories from my first two years in my position with this school. The office signifies everything from helping scores of students, family and staff members, to freedom from a marriage that was full of so many disappointments for me. I am packing up the office, as the school is relocating to a larger facility about 15 km north of our current campus. It is a time of new beginnings.

At home I am packing up and clearing out my “guest room” which has become a storage room for many of the things I had no time to sift through as I quickly moved to our apartment two years ago.

I find that, in both locations, I am packing and sifting – deciding which “things” must stay and which must go – some things are harder to part with than others. The reality is that I am one of those people who is attached to “things” and their significance. Even if I don’t look at a “thing” for years – when I remember who gave it to me, or the sentimental attachments, it is often hard for me to part with it. Some “things” I keep because I feel I have to keep them – and other things I keep because I have kept them for so long already, how could I throw them out now????

Can you relate?

As I was sifting through items in this spare room I came across two old key chains, full of keys. I knew what some of the keys opened – the office of my advisor at the University I went to (I did some work for her when I was there), another set was to a church where I ran a youth program, one set opened the offices of an HIV Education program I worked for, still another set (I think) opened my parents home, that I have not lived in since I was 18…..

All these keys, none of them in use, yet I still held on to them. And it occurred to me, as much as we use keys to open doors – and move on, we can also use keys to lock things away and hold on to our past. What I realized is that, at times, we hold on to the keys that link us to our past, and these links are not healthy for us. When we have the courage to throw away the old keys and seek new ones, we are allowing ourselves the freedom to create new pathways for ourselves.

I threw away the keys. And then I kept throwing – wedding cards (after all, it ended in divorce), letters from old boy and girlfriends, books from university, knick knacks (some tacky and ugly) given to me by friends, but hidden away because they look hideous…….

When we keep these things, the guilt and attachment cause us to hold on – we believe that getting rid of them will bring pain – but, what if throwing these things out does not cause pain, but provides us with freedom?

Throwing away unnecessary ties to the past gives us the opportunity to continue to walk today, and towards our future.

Today, 143 days ’til 40, I am reminded that by clearing out things from our past we can often free ourselves towards movement towards our future.



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32 responses to “143 Days ’til 40: Unlocking the Future…. by throwing away keys to the past….

  1. fransiweinstein

    October 1, 2012 at 00:19

    I will share with you something my mother told me when I was guilty about getting rid of furniture and collectibles I had shopped for with my father, who I adored. “Fransi”, she said, “The memories are yours to keep, with or without, the things.”. She was right. Love this post of yours. Glad you found it and shared it.

    • 400daystil40

      October 1, 2012 at 12:11

      What great wisdom your mother shared!!!! 🙂

      • fransiweinstein

        October 4, 2012 at 18:57

        Thanks. She was an amazing woman.

  2. jukk888

    October 1, 2012 at 02:30

    I agree.

  3. 1smiles

    October 1, 2012 at 02:55

    Thank you for sharing this old blog of yours.

  4. 1smiles

    October 1, 2012 at 03:01

    Reblogged this on 1smiles and commented:
    Excellant blog! It can be difficult to let go of what was. But it is a necessary step to finding out what is yet to come.

  5. simon7banks

    October 1, 2012 at 10:03

    Yes, I can relate to that!

    The image of keys to the past is a powerful one and I may use it in a poem.

    Before throwing away the keys to the past, girls and boys, make sure you’re outside it!

    • 400daystil40

      October 1, 2012 at 12:14

      hehehe – please post a link if you write an post a poem on keys!!! 🙂

  6. Mari

    October 1, 2012 at 16:11

    Yes!! I absolutely agree!! I’ve done this before; gotten rid of “things” from my past. At the time I thought I was also letting go of the past itself but I’ve recently discovered that it wasn’t entirely true because more than letting it go, I need to make peace with it in order to move on-that’s the path I’m on right now. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring post just when I needed it most!

    Have a wonderful day!! (:

    • 400daystil40

      October 1, 2012 at 22:43

      Ahh, very good point – you are so right – we can let go on many levels and sometimes we need to push and challenge ourselves to let go at a deeper level so that we can really move on.

  7. Maxi

    October 1, 2012 at 17:38

    This post gives one something to think about. It gives me a chuckle about my late husband. David was a “pack rat,” never wanted to get rid of anything.

    I’m the opposite, if I haven’t used or worn something in a year chances are I won’t. I go through the house and get rid of things. Sometime I would find them in David’s car or in the attic.

    I don’t need things, the memories are all in my heart.

    Blessings ~ Maxi

    • 400daystil40

      October 1, 2012 at 22:42

      I am working on doing exactly what you did – clearing out and understanding that memories are within – not in objects….

  8. Julie

    October 1, 2012 at 19:45

    This is striking. True. Tossing is good.

    • 400daystil40

      October 1, 2012 at 22:41

      Thank you – yes, it definitely is good!!!

  9. Another Thousand Words

    October 2, 2012 at 02:29

    I’ve been doing the same, 400! I call it ‘life clutter’ and I’ve removed several bagsful…I know I will always have the memories (just as your mother said!) and I just got tired of hauling all this stuff and trying to find a place to store it.

    It’s a good thing to do every several years…and thanks so for finding your old post!

    • 400daystil40

      October 2, 2012 at 22:49

      Ah yes, I need to get rid of much more of my life clutter…. thankfully, I am getting better with each year!

  10. Lucianus Mauricius

    October 2, 2012 at 04:58

    I’ve always been guilty of holding on to everything, and I do mean everything, from old receipts, to years of bills paid and accounts closed since I’ve changed more apts than one can change clothes in a week. I still have saving cards from grocery stores I sued to go to and I can never again since I live in another country, old letter form 17 years ago which have no meaning today, photos and so on. It’s part of me to collect junk, but as much as I hate box upon box of old memories, I can’t seem to be able to part from them, thus I continue to live in the past. One may say I can help it, but fact is, I can’t. Reason for that being I feel that letting go of my past (which is this case is represented by stuff) I’m sort of “killing” what used to be basically Me, and that frightens me so much. I guess you could, I’m made of the junk I hold on to, and it’s also a testament to me ever existing.
    Could it be that my fear of not leaving anything behind that I ever existed, is making me hold on to these objects for life?

    • 400daystil40

      October 2, 2012 at 22:46

      Wow, okay – you win, you hold on to way more things than I do! I fo find that when I am finally able to part with things it is a very freeing process….

      • Lucianus Mauricius

        October 3, 2012 at 05:18

        LOL, thanks for letting me win :D. Indeed it feels liberating, but getting yourself to actually throw things out is a whole other story.

  11. viveka

    October 2, 2012 at 18:53

    I’m the same have a box of old keys – mostly for suitcases looks – but I feel comfortable with having them – and it happens quite a few times per year that I have to find a key … and I would same with all the keys that opens something in my life – feel comfortable to have … because we never know what we need to unlock one day. Great post … really enjoyed it. So keep the keys.

    • 400daystil40

      October 2, 2012 at 22:44

      hehehe – I like your analogy! My keys are already gone, but that was a good thing for me! 🙂

      • viveka

        October 2, 2012 at 23:50

        *smile .. gone is gone … and so long as it feels okay for you – have you done the right thing.

  12. mskatykins

    October 3, 2012 at 12:24

    This is a great post! Interesting ideas. I’m not sure, I’ve regretted throwing away things in the past. Either I didn’t have space for it or I didn’t want to hold onto it for emotional reasons. I threw out all of the letters I’d received from my father and, at the time, I think I was doing it for cathartic reasons. It wasn’t too long before I wish I’d held on to them, so that I had something (if it needed it, emotionally) for the future… Hmm. Thought provoking, 400. 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      October 3, 2012 at 23:51

      Thanks so much! I also have had some regrets about what I threw away….. it is hard to know where the balance is sometimes…..

  13. Josephine T

    October 6, 2012 at 14:39

    Nice analogy… Really enjoy reading your posts. Hope you figure out your life soon!

    • 400daystil40

      October 6, 2012 at 21:16

      Thanks so much! Life is a journey – we will see how much I do or do not figure out – I am running out of days!!! 🙂


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