Best-selling author Ann Patchett has written a thoughtful essay called “How to Practice” that explores living, dying, and accumulating and letting go of possessions in between.
Here are a couple of passages I found particularly insightful:
“In any practice, there will be tests. That’s why we call it a practice—so we’ll be ready to meet our challenges when the time comes.”
“This was the practice: I was starting to get rid of my possessions, at least the useless ones, because possessions stood between me and death. They didn’t protect me from death, but they created a barrier in my understanding, like layers of bubble wrap, so that instead of thinking about what was coming and the beauty that was here now I was thinking about the piles of shiny trinkets I’d accumulated. I had begun the journey of digging out.”
“I found little things that had become important over time for no reason other than that I’d kept them for so long: a small wooden rocking horse that a high-school friend had brought me from Japan; two teeth that had been extracted from my head before I got braces, at thirteen; a smooth green stone that looked like a scarab—I couldn’t remember where it had come from. I got rid of them all.”
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