Yay, 2021! A new year has been ushered in along with high hopes and renewed fervor for our lives. The start of new goals, untried paths, fresh ideas and the always present, duh, duh, duh, repeat cycle of clearing out.
While I attempt to clear out the basement quarterly, I make sure that this is the place I begin for my yearly overhaul in January. I feel clearing out the foundation is a good support for all the rooms above to follow.
And even though I have designated the room ready to be tackled, there is one part of the basement that always receives my attention first. You guessed it, purgatory.
For those of you who do not have a Catholic upbringing, purgatory, put in the most simplest of terms, is where one sits in limbo. A person is held in this undesirable place in order to gain entrance to heaven, either waiting to be purified or atoning for one’s sins. As I was growing up, this conjured some awful visions of lost souls floating around in some foggy place. Yikes!
Though it scarred me, it sure as hell didn’t scar me enough, because I have a whole portion of my basement cordoned off and sanctioned as purgatory. There may be some spiders scurrying about in that part of the crawl space, but there are no lost souls stuck down there, floating about in misery. At least not the last time I looked.
So what exactly is stuck in the purgatory of my creation? My objects in limbo consist of those things I am ambivalent about parting with. Maybe it’s something that still holds some emotional attachment. I throw it in purgatory and see if I miss it. Perhaps it’s a kitchen utensil I haven’t used in a while but I feel I may one day need. Put that baby in purgatory and see how often I have to dig it out. A shirt or pair of pants that I don’t really wear but I can’t seem to throw out yet. Yep. Purgatory.
Now, I don’t mean that everything I am thinking of getting rid of goes into limbo. Many decisions are pretty clear cut. But there are some items I struggle with for numerous reasons, and that is why my sweet little limbo space is going to be the topic of conversation over the next few weeks.
Once the item is removed, it’s not visible or in rotation. Hence, I’m not looking at it or thinking about it. I go down to visit my little “lost souls” a few times a year and ask myself, “Did I miss this object? Do I need it? Have I looked at it even once since it’s been down there?”
If I’ve answered no to these questions it’s time for the object to move on and find a new home, aka, heaven, which consists of someone else actually using and enjoying the item. It’s fulfilled it’s purpose in one place and it’s ready to move on to the next. If I’m still unsure, perhaps I need to keep the item, or it may need to stay in limbo a bit longer in order to make the decision.
When clearing out a space, it’s nice when we automatically know whether something stays or goes. It makes our job easy. But as we know, not everything in life is simple. I feel it’s okay if you need to take some time to disengage from an item, get some distance, and see if it’s something you really need or want. When it’s time to revisit the object, you have greater clarity about how to move forward.
While sometimes our items need to sit in limbo in order to be sorted, I’ve been finding that sometimes we need to do this ourselves, as well. Last year especially was fraught with upheaval, fear, and uncertainty. I am usually a take action kind of girl. I don’t let things get me down for long before I’m back at breathing deep, and attempting to tackle what comes my way. But sometimes, we need to pause.
I’ve learned that it is okay to just sit with what is. Sometimes we don’t know the answer to something. That’s okay. Just sit in the space of not knowing.
Sometimes we don’t know how to move forward with something. That’s okay. Sit in the space of just being with it.
Sometimes we are faced with something that goes against everything we might have ever learned. How do I reconcile that? It’s okay to not know how to reconcile that. Just sit in the space of what is.
Give it time. Let it wash over you, and before long, you will be in a place where when you ask yourself the questions, “Am I ready to move on, have I figured this out,” or “do I feel strong enough to proceed,” you find that the decision can be made. You have greater clarity and understanding. If not, then just be with it a little longer.
In this world where everything is done in an instant, it’s okay to slow up and be still. Texts, emails, calls on our cells…we are used to responding in seconds or minutes, but that does not have to be the norm. When needed, we can take the time, sit in “that space” and be with what is.
Now that’s a good sort of purgatory. The kind that is kind to your soul.