I recently had some friends over for dinner. The night before, I bought a bunch of food and drink. I needed room in my fridge, so I removed a six-pack box that had one beer left. The box sat on my fridge’s top shelf for a while, and it kept that position solely due to some sentimental value attached to it. I didn’t want to throw it out, but at the same time, I needed somewhere to put my new supplies—and those were perishable. Thus, I put the box aside, filled up my fridge with my groceries, and went about my day.
The next morning, as I groggily prepared myself breakfast, I opened my fridge door. Something seemed off. The inside of my fridge looked bigger now. I had so much space! Did my friends and I really eat that much food the previous night? Was something missing? Or taken? I was perplexed. It took a couple trips, but it finally dawned on me: That six-pack box wasn’t in there anymore. I had gotten so used to it over the past couple months, it basically became part of my fridge. Even though the box was taking up room and doing nothing productive, I eventually grew used to it— to the point I didn't even notice its presence. It took a need—i.e., space for my friend dinner food—to inspire the change. But now that the change happened, my fridge was better for it. The box would not be making a return.
The point of this anecdote isn’t to remind you to look check your fridge, or clear out your closet, or do any sort of actual cleaning. Rather, it is to ask yourself: What are you holding on to that you don’t really need? As a packrat, I can argue just about everything I hold on to is important and has meaning to me (all my junk brings joy), so I understand how hard it is to let go. And not everything has to be banished with extreme prejudice. But if you needed to get rid of something temporarily, and you can’t even remember it the next day—heck, you even find life is better without it—then that could be a sign that the object/feeling/emotion/memory needs to be let go.
I held on to that box because of the memories associated with a person who used to be in my life. And maybe, in a way, continuing to hold on to that box was holding me back mentally or emotionally. That may be some Instagram-level psychology, but at the end of the day, my fridge is better off with the space—and my heart and mind are better off moving forward too. It’s OK if not everything stays around forever. Even if we’d like it to.