BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST JOANNA HELLER
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I have a closet that I visit only rarely. It is my other closet.
My special occasion stuff closet. The closet I go to when I need a weekend bag or my large backpack. I haven’t touched anything else in there for a long time. A really long time. Ten years? Fifteen? I’ve lost track.
Things hanging on the rack untouched for more than a decade? Totally ridiculous. I never intended to create a museum. The time has come to shine some light in there. Actually it’s way past time. Time to pay more attention to today’s stuff and let go of yesterday’s.
A red silk jacket
One of the things hanging in that other closet is a lovely red silk jacket that was a staple for practically every big celebration for at least twenty years. Maybe more. I got it at a great price in Loehmann’s in the Bronx decades ago and it worked really well for bar mitzvahs, weddings and all manner of special occasions.
Those bar mitzvah kids are now long grown with children of their own. Many years and many big celebrations have come and gone but my red silk jacket lives on, comfortable on its padded hanger.
And that red jacket is not alone in the dark in there. It has its peers. They might be good friends by now. A couple of pairs of slacks, a tweed suit jacket and maybe one skirt are still in there. All worn for important occasions but now unworn for decades and totally unlikely to ever be worn again.
Yesterday’s sizes and yesterday’s styles.
Work clothes, past tense
And then there’s the closet that holds everyday clothes – no, not today’s everyday clothes. The clothes I wore for work. Past tense. Teaching. I’ve been retired from that work for seventeen years!
Going to work in that South Bronx school with a hand stoked coal furnace from 1925 was an adventure. In the winter, some days the kids wrote while wearing gloves. I wore thermal underwear. Then in May or June when we were sweltering, the custodians would fire up the furnace to use up any remaining coal so that they could say they needed a larger supply the next school year.
In any case, that adventure is over and also there’s much improved thermal underwear now. I don’t need the extra layers and I don’t need the waist packs that I used to carry the stuff I needed to keep safe Barring some large social upheaval, I probably won’t need those things again. Well, I might save just a few of them …
And let me not forget the other everyday work clothes which have been also quite un-needed lately. Retired again, this time from social work about five years ago, these clothes are way more current and less extreme, but still … their time has also come. Come and gone.
Room for today, room for me
So how about today’s everyday clothes, the ones I actually do wear every day? They are out in the cold.
The clothes I wear for yoga, writing or painting, gardening, walking at the beach – have very little place to live. A pile on the bench near the bed. Does this make any sense? It looks like I’m giving too much space to yesterday and it’s crowding out today.
Yes, I know there’s a better way. I just haven’t gotten to it. Maybe start with the other closet. First in, first out. Reverse seniority.
I think it’s safe to say I don’t need my red jacket any more. Out. The other special occasion stuff. Out.
Then the expired work clothes. Out.
If I’m going to be present, really present with myself today, I think some old baggage has got to go. Cluttering up today with too much history, unlike the airlines’ definition, really is excess baggage.
And I am paying extra for it, you can be sure.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.