Lovingly stolen from Mad Men, but a close approximation of my new place.
My fiance and I just bought our first home: a two bedroom, two bath condo in Toco Hills, the Orthodox neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. We’re looking forward to hosting High Holidays in our midcentury modern pad, complete with enough Ikea furniture to rival the GDP of the entire nation of Sweden and artwork straight out of the prop department of Mad Men. Don Draper would be proud.
But first, we have to go through Hell Week: moving.
A true fact of life: it costs approximately ten times as much to move as your budget allows, and takes twice as long. Doesn’t matter how you budget your time or money, it’s just a reality.
And moving is stressful. We went the easy way with Two Men and a Truck as well as paying extra money for primo boxes instead of stalking the nice man at the liquor store on delivery day. This contrasts with my past moving experiences of tossing everything you own in the back of an Oldsmobile and hoping nothing breaks or falls out the window onto the interstate.
The hours are the worst. From the moment I wake up, the first thought in my mind is not “modeh ani”, the Jewish morning prayer, but “jeez, yet another day of unpacking garbage I wish I didn’t own.”
Out of this experience, however, I have gained a spiritual insight that I wanted to share with you, my friends at PunkTorah.
Get rid of your junk.
Seriously. There’s nothing worse than hauling around the past. It’s over. Move on. You can have fond memories of your past without shlepping around your artifacts.
I draw inspiration from the saga of Rachel, Laban and Jacob. Laban was an idolator, owning some kind of household gods the Torah calls “teraphim” which Rachel stole (Genesis 31:34). Idolatry was clearly the past: at this point in the stage of the Jewish family, we’re at the third patriarch. By now, you would think that the first family of Judaism would have fully entrenched their extended family in monotheism. Well…not so much.
The past is impossible to shake, especially if you are carrying around its artifacts with you.
This desire to remember the past through “stuff” is an intense human emotion. Laban, in his experience of carrying around household gods, was probably not convinced they had magical superpowers. Rather, Laban held some kind of precious memory of those statues in his family’s home. Rachel, his daughter, probably felt the same way, even if she was marrying into the monotheistic royal family.
So please, declutter your life. Don’t hang onto things: hang onto memories.
Rabbi Patrick Aleph is the founder of PunkTorah and the executive director. You can friend him on Facebook and check out his info here.