Why do we stay so attached? We all seem to have these particular things that we just can't let go of. For me this is something that I struggle with on a daily basis.
I understand why parents are attached to their children. Without this attachment we would not have the desire to care for them, to love and protect them. This is an attachment that all mammals have. Although the human attachment for most seems to last a life time. As a mother myself I appreciate and love this reciprocal attachment that I have with my children.
Having recently lost a member of my family whom I loved deeply and was very attached to as a child and an adult. Even this attachment I understand. However the attachment for me with my grandmother was while she was living. As I held her hand while she passed I was grateful that because of my attachment to her that I was able to be there for her and help her go. I can honestly say that I miss her but I am not holding on to the idea or the longing to be with her.
As a mother with three children I struggle every day with the concept of need vs. want. We have a modest sized house but I always find it cluttered. There are toys everywhere I turn. The kitchen, the basement, the living room, the dining room, the bathroom even, I hate it most when I find them in the hall. I tried recently taking some of these neglected toys and putting them in a bin to either sell or give away. Well that did not go over so well. My children obviously have some serious attachment to their things. The tears, the screeching, the anger all because of a toy that I was going to get rid of because it had been collecting dust for over a year. Did I cause this? Is it because we have so much stuff in our house, too many clothes to wear, more than one pair of shoes to choose from? Or is this something that they will grow out of and forget about?
I have attachment issues myself. I know the things I hold on to. Some of them don't take up space but they are things I should get rid of. Emails for one. I hoard them. I keep emails from old friends, lovers and family members. A simple email from someone in my past that says "thinking of you". I will keep. Photographs in emails of family members that I never see. Recipes that I will probably never use. Links to articles and web sites, long ago visited and already read. I not only have emails, I have Facebook messages. Why the heck I keep those I have no idea, I never even read them. Phone numbers, directions to peoples homes, trip plans - all there just in case. Who cares? I honestly never look back but feel a sense of loss if I hit the delete button. I know this is not a physical attachment. They don't take up space in my home, but they are clutter just the same.
I have a strange attachment to china. Yes me the crunchy granola, is fine to drink her water out of a mason jar or measuring cup. Who will often eat her dinner standing at the counter, and eat it straight out of the pot it was cooked in (I had scrambled eggs from the pan today at lunch). I have issues with china. I have a ton of it. A lot of it was passed to me from either of my grandmother's but some of it purchased. Most of it numbered and "valuable". I also received china from friends and family when I got married. This I use whenever I get the chance. My guests love it and feel special when they come for dinner and whether we are having pasta or burgers they sometimes get to eat on fine china. I throw tea parties for my mom and my daughter and it is so much fun to pull out all the fancy dishes for them and I know we will remember these parties always. I have a huge party every year around Christmas and again I break out all these special dishes. They aren't just dishes for me many of them hold memories. Memories of my own grandmother's doing the same thing for our family when I was little. I love that some of the china dishes have been part of my celebrations since I was a baby. But how much of it do I keep and why do I keep it. I have these memories regardless and do my guests really care that their cup of tea is in a cup that is numbered and is 75 years old? Probably not.
Clothing and shoes are another strange thing that I have difficulty parting with. I don't have a huge wardrobe by any means but I do have a lot of clothes. I have spent the last 9 years of my life pregnant or breastfeeding and this means that my body has reflected these changes and therefore so have my clothes. I have held on to clothing that I wore before I was pregnant in case I fit into it again. I fit into most of it now but many of these clothes are for a 20 something with an active social life, and not a 30 year old woman with a very different social life. I no longer have a need for flashy club clothes or expensive suits from my former professional life. But I still hang onto them. I might need a business suit at some point. For a job interview or maybe for work some time in the future. Some of the reason I hold on to these is that I know how much they cost me. I had a great job before having children and thought it was nothing to spend $500 on a suit for work. Now I cringe at spending more than $10 on a t-shirt. So I have these clothes and don't know what I should do with them. Part of me wants to hold on to them, just in case. The other part of me says, "I will never wear them again."
Thoughts and ideas are the last piece of attachment that I want to talk about right now. We all have preconceived notions of how things are supposed to be and are often disappointed when it is not the way we think it could or should be. This could be wanting to achieve a certain posture in asana practice, or having your meditation go a certain way. More commonly for many people it could be body image. The wanting to thinking we should look a certain way, rather than accepting how we are. I am no different in this aspect. I feel that with my lifestyle of eating well and exercising I should look way different than I do. Not that I look bad, just not what I expect. Instead, I and we should embrace our bodies. Especially if we know that we are doing the best we can to care for our bodies. Body image is one of the hardest attachments to over come. Whether we are unhappy with our feet, legs, arms, breasts, bellies or anything else these are not who we are. They are parts of us but not us. The people in our lives who love us, those we are attached to love us for who we are not because we have pretty toes or nice boobs.
I have ideas about how things should happen all the time. I fell down and have a scab on my knee, it should be gone in two weeks. Or I'm going out for dinner with friends and it will end at 8pm and we will have 80% fun and 20% serious talk. It never happens the way we plan. Dinner ends early and we are able to walk home or it ends late and we took a cab. It is so important to release these expectations of what should happen and how and just be present to the process. It makes these moments that much more authentic. My children should act and behave a certain way. I have attachments to their behavior, this is something that I have no control over. I can give them the tools to be kind, polite and to enjoy themselves but I cannot impose my expectations or my attachment to their "good" behaviour on them. I can teach them the tools but they have to be the ones to act with them.
We are planning a garage sale in a few weeks. I have already started the cleansing. I won't be able to rid my in-box of too many emails or better my body image. I will clear my house of some unwanted or unused items and hopefully this will transcend. With my physical house clearer perhaps my
Jennifer is an RMT, long time yoga practitioner and teacher. Follow her musings as an RMT, yoga teacher, prenatal educator and mother of three.