Simplicity vs Sentimentality
You meant well, when you started saving favorite toys and mementos, trophies and certificates, then wedding dress and pictures, baby clothes, children’s art, gifts from family, things handed down through generations, gifts made by hand with love, favorite books, favorite cups, more pictures and cards, and peculiar little things that have no significance to anyone else (and wrapped in a ribbon).
Assuming you have been lucky enough to escape the catastrophic–fire, flood, cyclone, banishment, you’ve still got most of it even if you’ve moved house more than once. If you haven’t moved house, you might not even remember where some of it is. Yet the notion of simply getting rid of sentimental things that you don’t need or use or even keep in front of you anymore triggers feelings of guilt.
The simplest manner of living is always in the present time, with things that are relevant to your current needs and preferences. What, then, do you call that attic, that basement full of boxes, that storage unit you rent by the month, that spare room you can barely turn around in? Your room-sized scrapbook? Your giant keepsake box? Your rapidly-growing tumor of long-term memory? Doesn’t sound too good, does it?
“Breaking up” with stuff isn’t the equivalent of breaking up with the person associated with them, but somehow that’s not the way many of us have been conditioned to think. If I toss out my son’s childhood artwork (some of it is really cute) do I toss out my son’s childhood? Hardly. I mean, I was there for most of it, could no more toss it out than a chunk of my own life’s memory. But at the same time it would be weird to have it still stuck on the fridge door, seeing as he and his wife have just bought their first home and are planning a family of their own. What would it say about my relationship to him, or to my life in the present time, to give over so much space to little things from over twenty years ago?
That is the question to ask yourself: what is my relationship now to the people/times/activities encased by the mementos? Have I moved on? Have they? If not, why? Moving on is good and natural and sane: time moves on, and so should we. In every given moment of the present, we are the sum total of our experiences in prior moments. Our memories, our current lives, are testament to that–does having so much of the past stashed away in boxes and storage really pay tribute to it?
Check out my other blog: Minimalist Cooking