I’m getting rid of my record collection. This may seem like a trivial thing to some people, especially to older people who got rid of their records decades ago, but this is a big deal for me. This is a thing that I have maintained for well over a decade. I spent so many days and nights in apartments all over California — caffeinated, high, drunk, in love, hungover, depressed, elated, anxious, heartbroken, exhausted, frightened — with one of those records spinning around, filling the air with great music that made life so much more livable. I loved them and cherished them, but it’s been years since I really sat down and just had a session with my records. I can’t be bothered with turning them over or switching them out all the time like this is 1975.
So I decided that it’s time for me to say goodbye. The novelty of owning that stuff has worn on me. I don’t deny what the geeks ramble on about — the warm tone, the charm of pulling out that big slab of shiny vinyl and hearing the needle drop — but my mind is made up. It has been for a while now I guess. I would be lying if I were to tell you that it hasn’t been hard for me. This is the final taboo in my ongoing odyssey of getting rid of shit, but I need to do this.
I thought I was a rock musician for a while there in my teens and early twenties. It saw to it that I acquire a whole bunch of stuff — musical instruments, amplifiers, cables, effects pedals, recording equipment, tuners, stands, microphones, and a vehicle capable of hauling all of it. When I finally came around to the idea that I wasn’t really a rock musician, I started the process of clearing all that gear out of my life. Just getting rid of stuff I wasn’t using anymore. I was glad to see it go. There is a certain layer of ice that you need to let grow over your heart in oder to do it. It gets easier once you master that ability.
Going through your stuff and just deciding to toss it can send you through a kind of emotional tilt-a-whirl. When you find yourself pointlessly hanging on to things for so long, you have to question the real reason why you were doing that in the first place. Did you seriously think you were going to need it later? Really? What kind of person keeps all this stuff? Why do you have a box full of old birthday cards and random extension cords you’ll never use? Why do you have all these boxes of condoms that expired two years ago? What kind of person ARE you anyway? It has a way of peeling back the layers and exposing you to yourself. It’s an exercise in letting go. It’s training for something a little deeper.
Attachment and letting go
All that junk is symbolic as hell. When I decided that I was going to get rid of some old books that I was never going to read, I had to sit there and argue with myself. Part of me thought there might actually be a chance that I would still read them. After all, I want to read everything, surely I’d make time some time to read these. But another side of myself, my rational side, won out. I knew in my heart that I would never have read those books. Never in a million years. I was holding on to them for no good reason. And I do stuff like that all the time. We all pull shit like that and we don’t even realize what we’re doing.
Then it started dawning on me that I had a lot of clutter in my own head. I was attached to all these ideas and identities. People who I thought I was, ideas about the world I thought I had, things I believed to be true, my opinions of other people, all these stories I kept telling myself about everything — I started throwing that all out as well. That was all just junk too.
I let the layer of ice around my heart grow a few inches thicker when I decided to actively start cutting people out of my life who I felt may be dragging me down. I had to remember to tell myself that I was free to do this. If someone in my life was really bothering me that much, I was totally free to cut them out. So I did it. I did it with party friends, an old best friend, even family. It sounds cold and callous, but sometimes getting rid of certain people in your life is the best and healthiest choice you can make. We all know how true that is when it comes to the end of a relationship. Loving and letting go is an art, it’s a skill that needs to be honed and crafted, sometimes by first getting rid of some junk you once loved, like your old record collection.
This is always about letting go. Letting go of ideas and thoughts you had that are doing nothing but cluttering your life and confusing you. It’s understanding that this stuff you have in your life isn’t who you are. These ideas about yourself are just ideas. These people in your life may not be the best people for you. It’s just clutter, using space and collecting dust. It’s about letting go of attachment.
We grow attached to the piles of vinyl we no longer listen to. We grow attached to the books we never read, the clothes we never wear, the TV we watch too much, our phones. We grow attached to the guy or girl we’re stuck in a dead end relationship with. We grow attached in a peculiar way, to friends and family that do nothing but weigh us down. We grow attached to the idea that somehow these things and these people need to stick around, but that’s horse shit. We all know deep down that you need to let that cold frost settle over your heart and handle your business.
So I’m getting rid of my record collection. Just like that. It makes me happy to think that someone else might be able to better enjoy those things than I’ve been able to these past few years. I’ll always remember dancing to The Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime with my live-in girlfriend in our living room. I’ll never forget how I would come home every day after a long day at work and put Husker Du’s Zen Arcade on, then plant myself on the floor, soaking it up. There were those nights I spent in Sacramento where I would really examine the hell out of my copy of Mozart’s Gran Partita Serenade for 13 Winds, picking out every little part and thinking of how perfect it was. There was that feeling of solace I would have when I would drop the needle on Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love. But I haven’t done that in years and if I kept all that stuff, I know in my heart that I wouldn’t do it again.
Those days are over. I let myself get attached to those memories. Those times and places, and the records took on some kind of symbolic meaning. I understand that now. I also understand that it just isn’t healthy to have stuff around if I’m not going to use it. So I let that layer of ice grow over my heart. I’m getting rid of my record collection.