Divesting: It’s all about the meaning

Click here for information on the photographs I use in the header.
This column was originally published in the “Arvada Press” and affiliated Denver-area newspapers, and is reprinted here with permission.

 In the not-too-recent past, the concept of “divesting” meant to rid oneself of something one no longer wants or requires, the way businesses divest themselves of under-performing subsidiaries.

In 2012, however, divesting has taken on a new meaning. In fact, divesting is now all about the meaning: making decisions about what one really does want and require.

The “green” thing to do…

Additionally, divesting has become the “green” thing to do, freeing us from the conspicuous consumerism of previous decades and the addicting accumulation of stuff.

Many of us even embrace the notion that, to bring a new item into the home—clothes, shoes, art, cookware—we need to discard or donate at least one item we already own. (Some use a 3:1 ratio: replace three items with one new one.)

Along with urban gardening, reducing our carbon footprints, and functioning with sustainable resources, divesting has become part of a new way of existing in society, and in the world.

From my home to hers…

For example, my niece just moved to a new apartment. As she sorted through her own bedding, lamps, and computer cords, she also ended up with a set of dishes (minus one plate), assorted tableware, and her grandmother’s swivel chair…all from my home to hers.

With the help of craigslist, I also recently divested myself of the wrong-size car rack, the wrong-speed modem, and the wrong-idea bicycle trainer. Gently used clothes, shoes, games, CDs, and books were boxed, bagged, and delivered to ARC.

I finally discarded the top half of my favorite crystal glass that broke off from the stem, donated all my previous mobile devices to a program for domestic violence shelters, and took extra warm stuff for cold days to the Mission. And I convinced myself to recycle the empty wine bottles that I had purchased because I liked the labels.

Not quite ready to let go…

But I’m not ready to let go of all my tangible items of meaning…to separate all my memories from their objects.

That’s why I’m still keeping every piece of kid art, every performance program, every soccer roster, and every handmade thank-you note or birthday card that’s ever come my way.

I’m also keeping anything I’ve lugged home from other parts of the world: ceramic birds from Mexico, tapestries from Turkmenistan, art from France. Music from Jamaica, tartans from Scotland, batiks from Thailand, and refrigerator magnets from California.

And I won’t be parting any time soon with my grandmother’s bureaus, my parents’ living room tables, my sister’s armoire, and the little bookcase I picked up at Goodwill while I was in college.

So far I’m on the fence, too, about the collection of ticket stubs, name badges, ribbons, bumper stickers, key chains, shirt patches, and collectible pins from every concert, play, movie, sporting event, conference, museum, or tour I’ve ever attended.

Getting rid of regret…

However, I am working to divest myself of regret…but I’m keeping the enlightenment. Learning to part with petty grievances and bring in bliss, threefold. Letting go of what is no longer wanted or required of the past, to live fully in the present.

Oh, and one last thought…there’s always room for joy.

A little more about the author: 

 Andrea Doray is a writer from Arvada who genuinely enjoys planning how and what to divest, but continues to acquire books, music, and photographs without regard to the ratio. Contact her at a.doray@andreadoray.com

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One thought on “Divesting: It’s all about the meaning

  1. Great insight and full of thought. I really enjoyed this piece. I think I will have to print it and save it with all my stubs, home-made cards, funnies, and hand written notes! Joyce

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