I remember I once lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time, and while I welcomed the weight loss, I found myself strangely sad in my new, skinny body. I realized after several days that I was mourning the loss of my old body. I've never read a weight-loss book that deals with this subject, although there is a lot of work by Jungian psychoanalyst Marion Woodman on this issue.
Similarly, when we get rid of a lot of our things, we can go through a period of feeling unsettled and unhappy. If we define ourselves at least in part by our possessions, losing them is like losing pieces of ourselves.
I just walked down the street and dropped off a tabla (East Indian drum) at a neighbour's house. His son teaches music in the public school system, and uses hand drums in his inner-city music classes. I'm thrilled at the thought of my drum being used by these kids, but part of me is feeling really sad, too.
The drum was given to me few years ago by a couple of dear friends who knew I was interested in learning hand drumming. I cried when I opened their gift - I couldn't believe that they had cared enough about me to pay attention to my dreams.
And I loved playing my drum; I loved the weight and heft of it when I held it between my knees (not proper tabla technique - but it felt right to me); I loved the feel of the taut skin against my fingers and palms; I loved the deep, resonant sounds the drum made when I played it.
Unfortunately, nobody else liked hearing me play my drum. And now I live in an apartment building where I am loathe to make that much noise. The drum has sat for months on a high shelf, untouched. To me, who loves music so much, that is a crime.
Now the drum will be played by exuberant students, but I still feel a pang at its loss. I need the shelf space for other things, but it saddens me that some of my dreams must die so that other dreams can be fulfilled.
How do we deal with these life transitions? One solution might be to create a small, personalized ritual that somehow gives significance to your experience. A simple action (like writing a story, or singing a song about how you're feeling, or creating a drawing that expresses your grief) is sometimes all that's needed.
Don't let potential sadness deter you from purging, however. It's only when we risk falling that we learn to fly...
copyright 2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow