naked man with beard
Photo by christian buehner / Unsplash

No no no. Not like that. My bracelets, I mean.

But wait, this really is that important. Since back in 2011, I started collecting bracelets from every country I traveled. I loaded up my left wrist with leather, fiber, beads, you name it, right up to the elbow.

They were a statement.

A big one. I could look at those bracelets and remember where I'd bought them: Cambodia, Argentina,  Canada, Ireland, Iceland, Ethiopia. They were conversation starters, a point of pride. Sort of.

Well, okay, yeah they were.

I fought tooth and nail with doctors who wanted to cut them off.

Over my dead body, I'd say. Meant it, too. I kept them; they defined me in some meaningful way.

For more than ten years, those bracelets stayed on full time until they broke or rotted off, only to be replaced with another. Beneath them, my skin was fishbelly white.

You could say, and you'd be right, that my attachment to those silly bracelets was a bit ridiculous. When I am that identified with something, that usually means it's time to let it go.


Note bracelets left wrist Julia Hubbel

About an hour ago, I went into my bathroom, and with a small scissors, removed the ones I was wearing and placed them, and others I'd saved, in a small Buddha box in my bedroom.


Well crap. Three big reasons.

First, this:

what CMC arthritis looks like on a good day Julia Hubbel

My left hand needs surgery, above. That red area at the base of my thumb is so painful and swollen that after about midday I can't use my hand. The bracelets get in the way of the splints, get jammed under them and hurt even more. Really?


Second, surgery. Those bracelets had to come off for hand surgery, which is, with any luck, going to happen in a few months.  Might as well get used to not having them on my arm now.

Third, I'm about to finish a decade. One of the wonderful things about wrapping up a decade is cleaning out and making room for what's next, even if it's only symbolically.

So now, they're gone. Besides, I have a slew of other bracelets I haven't been able to wear because my wrist has been too crowded.

Look, my arm sure FEELS naked. After ten years of all that busy-ness, nothing, and now all that sickly white skin?

Ready for the next chapter.

I am doing the same thing inside my house. As I have evolved, there are certain things that didn't evolve with me. It's time to let them go, from gear to dishes to clothing. Piece by piece, bit by bit, drop by drop. As a veteran collector of wonderful things, at some point for each new thing, two or three have to leave.

I have been doing this for five or more years, and still there is so much. I tend to collect, then donate, or sell, or whatever. Binge and purge.

Do I really need scuba suits if I am no longer diving? Nope. Sure it's a pain to sell or unload them. But now it's just stuff, stuff that gets moved, needs maintenance, and loses value every passing year.

And the designer clothing from my fifties?

Anyone who has ever scored a gorgeous Dior jacket back when we thought that actually meant something, well, you get it. Thank god for resale houses. Most of that stuff is brand new. Somebody's gonna score big when I clean out.  

Am I really ever gonna wear that jacket? Not likely. Then why on earth is it taking up space in my closet? Precisely. Which is why I haven't bought any designer clothing in years. One jacket is an entire trip to Cambodia and then some.

There is a point at which those things that I do bring in need to be more esoteric in value rather than something beautiful, which takes up room and somebody gotta dust that damned thing. That's where I am right now.

I'm doing a bit of a Beth Bruno, if you will, in that I am making some careful decisions about what I love enough to keep, and what I know I will not use, wear, or love again. This how we grow up by letting go, and it is most definitely an emotional as well as a physical process.

Besides, the closer I get to seriously considering spending part of my year overseas, when I look around my house part of me thinks, REALLY? Who on earth is gonna use all those pretty dishes? The squirrels?

Hell, they break the bowls I put out with seeds in them.

That's a fine thing. Scary as shit, a revelation of sorts, but as important as any realization. Letting go is making room.

It's a physical statement of an emotional and spiritual manifestation.

The other day The Guardian had a story about billionaires who are searching for forever life. Again, REALLY? I linked it the other day but in case you missed it:

If they could turn back time: how tech billionaires are trying to reverse the ageing process
Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel are pouring huge sums into startups aiming to keep us all young – or even cheat death. And the science isn’t as far-fetched as you might think

Not only do a lotta folks not like billionaires right now, how do you think they are gonna feel when they just don't DIE like a decent person and get the hell off the planet? You think future generations are going to like 'em any better than they like Jeff Bezos right now? Talk about detritus.

We become detritus when we refuse to move on. We all have due dates with our mother, who wants her stardust back to make something else.

Now that I have a little room around here I can start pulling out gear and ask that same Clash question Does it Stay or Does it Go. That is immensely useful as we get older, and stuff that needs maintenance becomes a burden. Our bodies need more maintenance and work. The more time that I  spend cleaning, mending, fixing, dusting, etc. is less time I can hit the hills, the gyms and the horses to improve my physical self.

Truth is, my bracelets didn't define me. They did remind me of a life lived exceptionally well for a decade. I'm a great believer in the notion that the Universe doesn't deliver your next course until you finish off the one on your plate (or sneak it to the dog under the table).

Okay, so the dog ate my bracelets. Lotta blank white space.

What's next, I wonder?

Woman watch and bracelets
Photo by Christy Ash / Unsplash