I had an Aha! moment reading Not Yet the other night, when Wayson Choy described the loss of all his things after a serious asthma attack made it clear he could not be in dusty, cluttered spaces. Those things, he writes, were possibilities.
That one word rung out loud and clear. It hadn't struck me before how we (and I especially) accumulate things - collectibles, clothes, books, project and hobby paraphernalia - or that they represent what we want for our future. They aren't even a commitment to that future. They're just an image of its potential, a goal to keep us going.
Yesterday I sat with a woman as she ripped out many inches of a sweater she started a year ago so that she could remake it into something that would work for her. Faced with that kind of disaster, a sweater near completion before I realized it wouldn't fit, I know I would roll the project into a ball and stuff it into a closet to deal with another day. I know this because I have one doing that right now; it's festering in there, transforming slowly from potential into burden, telling me not what I could be but what I have failed to achieve. Better to give such a thing away to be somebody else's possibility, and free yourself. Better even than that to let go of what wasn't to be and transform the lost dream into a useful reality.
Just not until after I'm finished the current short story. Or at least today's stint with it.