I recently saw on the news a story about the doll temple in Japan. Some Japanese believe their dolls (and other toys) have their own soul and when the child outgrows the toy, it is taken to a shrine for the priests to say prayers of thanks for their service. Some dolls are then ceremonially burnt to release the soul while the rest seem to be placed about the the altar and around the temple. They spoke to one woman in particular who had brought her dead (adult) son’s dolls (of the emperor and empress) to the temple because she found the memories too painful to keep the dolls at home yet wanted to do something to thank them for their ‘service’ to her son. It was quote a moving story.
At first glance, it seems to us a silly notion that the toys have a soul. But it got me thinking. We in the west have a seriously bad habit of overbuying and then hoarding. We can’t seem to let things go. Why is that? Because we have an emotional attachment to a thing (or multitude of things!) which is no less silly or absurd than the doll/soul concept. It’s because project our intangible memories and emotions onto tangible items in an attempt to hold onto the past.
Letting go can be painful. We all struggle with it especially at certain significant life events such as the death of someone dear to us, moving, kids starting school (and leaving babyhood) etc etc. I struggle with it too and sometimes can’t let things go. But…..a little mantra I run through is this:
* you can’t take it with you when you die
* you don’t want to burden your loved ones with having to deal with your stuff when you’re gone
* letting go can set you free and open you up to new and exciting adventures and moments
* having a simpler life, means having the time and the freedom to create new memories
* when it comes to the crush, it’s just stuff and not the person it reminds us of. Spending time with family & friends and capturing that on camera is waaaay more important than holding on to stuff
Of all people, I understand it can be challenging to declutter and let go. But it really is liberating just the same. Sometimes it’s best to declutter in baby steps. Other times, going hard and doing an almighty sweep is the way to go. Each person needs to find their own method that works for them. Hang in there. You can do it. And remember, to be kind to yourself – you’re valuable and precious too! Keep putting one step in front of the other….even if you only let go of one thing a day and cut down on new stuff brought into the house, you’re moving forward. Do little bits at a time rather than allow yourself to become overwhelmed at the thought of doing a whole house. Acknowledge that clutter causes noise and stress and that that is one of the best reasons to get rid of it. Be realistic about your intentions – don’t go buying stuff with the intention of using it (craft stuff, kitchen appliances, gym equipment etc) when you KNOW you won’t find time for the foreseeable future. Instead, create a pinterest board of the things you’d LIKE to get IF you had the time to do it. Sometimes all we need is that visual high and the feeling that we’re collecting stuff rather than the actual physical actions around that theme. Don’t go window shopping if you don’t need anything. Go for a walk in the sunshine instead. Or go to the library or museum and collect knowledge! There are so many ways to change our bad habits, and bit by bit we can.
So, I don’t know if dolls have souls. It doesn’t really matter. The main thing to take from it is that these people are letting go. And that’s a really brave, honest and free-ing things. Good for them! Now your turn!