I used to be a Gatherer of Things. The first few years of my adulthood were spent collecting objects by trading in the money I made working hard day to day. Pretty furniture, techy electronics, beautiful art, useful kitchen gadgets. An old-fashioned radio, a blender, bar stools, a flat screen TV. And cute containers to hold all my Things. Things. I gathered them for years. Then, a few months ago I stood before a 10’ by 10’ box that held my Things, and I shut the door knowing I wouldn’t see them again. There was no sadness. None. Things are incredibly and surprisingly easy to let go of. That lamp that I just NEEDED from Target did not mean anything to me anymore. That wall-hanging that cost a week’s worth of working suddenly became insignificant.
I learned such a valuable lesson when I shut that door on my storage unit of Things. Things matter so little. It was amazing that I had spent so much time working so hard to buy so many Things that didn’t matter. If I’m being honest, I probably bought most of it to impress other people. I suddenly knew I couldn’t spend the rest of my life, my time and my money, as a Gatherer of Things. It was literally pointless. This January I decided my New Year’s Resolution would be to become a Gatherer of Friendships and Experiences instead. My time and my money would now invest in people and making memories.
Amazingly, a third of the year has passed and I have a chunk of time to reflect upon my new pursuit:
~ Going back to school has been an incredible experience to gather. This time around I’m not checking off boxes. I’m invested. I damn well better learn everything I can. I’m soaking it up. Enjoying what I can and accepting the difficulties as part of the experience.
~ As an introvert, being a Gatherer of Friendships is a little unnatural for me. I am a hibernator. It has taken a lot of feeling the fear, and doing it anyway. It has worked out beautifully. I have deepened old friendships and made new ones. Sometimes it really is as simple as saying “Hi, cute shoes.” Like magic.
~ I find myself saying “yes” a lot more and then following through. When concerts, events, parties, vacations, or get-togethers are offered to me, I try to make it happen. I used to say “yes” to everything I didn’t want to do. It’s wild how fun and enjoyable life can be when you say “yes” to the things you love!
~A lovely friend suggested the iPhone app “Day One” (GET IT!) to me and I have been documenting my experiences and friendships. You post a picture each day and write a little about it. It’s a personal photo-journal on my phone. I can scroll through the days and see all these precious people in my life and the incredible experiences.
I know some Things are necessary. Let’s be real. I sleep on a bed. I have a toothbrush (you’re welcome). I have more shoes than I need and an overabundance eye-shadow (
maybe shoes and eye-shadow are not completely necessary). I will undoubtedly buy beautiful art and techy electronics once more. Things will be a part of my life. But I will be damned if I allow my life to be made up of Things. Things leave. Things are nothing. But people. People mean a whole lot. Experiencing the world around us, that means a whole lot. Be a Gatherer of Friendships and Experiences. Maybe be a Gatherer of Family (kids are fun to make, I hear), a Gatherer of Knowledge, a Gatherer of Laughter, a Gatherer of Kisses, a Gatherer of Memories. A Gatherer of Life.
So here is to tea with a new friend, vacations, watching the rain, musicals and sporting events, holding hands, family dinners and board games, bar-hops and art shows, watching Netflix way into the night with a sweet friend, new restaurants, walks with the dog, deep conversations, funny conversations, and simply sitting to listen to good music!
Or in the words of the poet Mary Oliver:
“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”