Today I de-cluttered, just a little. It wasn’t by choice. It was forced upon me when my son dragged out a drawer from my nightstand, gutting its contents. I guess this was his way of saying, “Mom, do you really need all this?”

As I took two bags of unnecessary stuff out to the trash, I wondered to myself why I tolerate so much clutter, especially for a self-proclaimed stuff-purger.

The sock without a mate for years. The paperwork, teaching CDs and manuals collecting dust in piles in corners.

I guess I keep it because I think, If I ever get myself together, I’m really going to need these.

And maybe the biggest deception of all: If I keep this one lonely sock long enough, its renegade partner is sure to return. 

It occurred to me at one point that it’s nearly the end of the year, and the start of a new one, and here I am de-cluttering, if even just a little, and by accident. Tis the season for starting over.

But what if we never started over? 

What if we there were no New Year’s celebrations, no birthdays, no holidays to mark an end to one era and the start of another? 

What if all our stuff and our days just kept collecting, heaping up on themselves? 

What would that be like? Maybe something like this.

737413. That’s the number of days since the year 0 AD/CE.


13597. As of today, that’s the number of days I have lived.

Can you imagine that?

So you meet me, and I’m like, “Hi, I’m Sarah. I’m a social worker, wife and mom, and I’m 13, 597.”

Gah! Besides sounding terrifically old — and I’m not, that old — it’s depressing. So many days. It’s like counting days of imprisonment.

The weight of it all, just stacking and stacking up. All my poor decisions, the miscalculations, the moments of pride and selfishness and myopic thinking, the lies and stretches of truth, the college majors I started on a whim, the unhealthy relationships, the nights of drinking too much. The grief of loss and death. Just piling on me. Piling on us all.

What would that feel like, to never start over?

PC: Matthew Wilkinson via Flickr

Without an end and a beginning, life would feel like this.

The need for starting over is innate in human nature. We get tangled and unraveled over trivial things, we take on more than we can carry, and the days and years of life pummel us.

Sometimes we just want to give up. Except we know that some day soon, we get to start over again. It’s such a relief.

So who do you want to be in this new year, 2019? 

What attitudes, habits, relationships do you want to leave behind in 2018? 

What do you want to create with this gift of starting over?

No one can decide but you, and that’s the terrifying, empowering truth.