Granted. Writing about endings when we have barely made it into the first week of the new year, and our days are still infused with the hopeful air of new beginnings, may feel a tad out of synch. Still.
sofagirl, to mark the end of the year, wrote about a neat little ritual taking place at a maze near her house in McGregor, which involves writing on a piece of paper what we want to let go of and then burn it. “I should do that”, I thought to myself – incidentally, there is a maze very close to where I live. And then I promptly forgot, like I forget most things I don’t etch in stone or, at the very least, write down in my Filofax.
January, the longest and dreariest month of the year, is a good time to let go: of excess pounds; bad habits; unwanted baggage; boring books; unkind words or people who no longer serve our well-being. At a time when we reassess the year that has just closed, it makes more sense to me do some spring cleaning now, rather than wait for March.
On the last day of the year, I forced my mother and Silvia to sit on my bed while I paraded my entire wardrobe and, together, decided what clothes to discard: two very large garbage bags later, every item that carried a bad memory, was slightly yellowed or had polka dots (Silvia dislikes them) was purged. There was a slight sense of elation and openess at walking away from them.
If only it were this easy with relationships. Even with apps capable of doing the breaking-up on our behalf, tossing time shared with another into a garbage bag and depositing it on the doorstep of a Salvation Army store hardly ever frees us of feelings of regret, sadness and what ifs. I bet you still remember the first time you dumped a first love, maladroitly, or when your heart was broken in a rather cruel, and unnecessary fashion, or the precise moment you knew your marriage had ended.
Caitlin Cronenberg, a Canadian photographer, became intrigued by breakups and the exact moment they happen. She collected stories from friends and strangers and, with friend Jessica Ennis, proceeded to re-stage such stories for both still and video cameras, hiring professional actresses to impersonate real life women. The project is titled The Endings.
Caitlin’s aim was for women to maybe recognize a similar moment and, in that recognition, feeling empowered enough to let go – that is why the stories behind the shots are not superimposed on the images. We are free to imagine whatever we feel.
If your heart is newly broken, I am not suggesting it will be easy or smooth. But January is a long month and, in the Northern Hemisphere, filled with dark and miserable days. Maybe, just maybe, on one of those Sunday afternoons when you feel a Netflix binge coming on, why not look around instead, and symbolically let go of one thing that is no longer needed, one thing only that will make you feel a little bit lighter.
The newfound room in my closet will not be filled any time soon. There will be no shopping spree. Empty space can look beautiful.