Sunday, January 11, 2015

Memento, memory

Before the letting go of anything, there is the willingness to let go.

As I said before, I'd been operating in a sort of save-everything default mode. The best thing this decluttering project has done for me is to make me more mindful of what I'm accumulating in the first place. Until now, I would keep everything unless I could convince myself there was a good reason to discard it. Now my philosophy is to question everything, to justify keeping rather than discarding/donating it.

This has been eye-opening. Do I really need so many pairs of black socks? So many address labels, bookmarks, barrettes? Do I need all those business cards I've been saving--how many of those people will I contact again? These pants that will probably never fit again? This expired medication? These train schedules that are more than a decade old? This game I never play? This watch that two different jewelers were unable to fix? These keys that match no lock I know of? My elementary-school report cards? My college ID?

Some of these are items that would be useful to a biographer. But let's face it, nobody will be writing my biography. And if they do, they'll just have to live without my third-grade teacher's appraisal of my penmanship, or the sight of the perm I had as a college freshman. Many of these things I held onto because of their association with pleasant people or events: a ribbon from someone's bridal shower, a ticket stub from a concert, a piece of wood from a magnificent old tree that was chopped down when I was in high school.

But the things are not the people. The things are not the memories. How much of the past do I have to cling to with visible reminders? How much of it can I let settle inside me, and trust that it has become part of me?

These are the questions I've been asking.

4 comments:

  1. Some of these questions are very difficult to answer, especially when something eventful is tied to the piece. I guess I'm not making your job any easier, huh?

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    1. I think everyone has to answer these for him/herself.

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  2. A lot of people are decluttering this time of year. I've been on declutter fail setting for a few years, but I have an excuse--two, in fact. Inheriting whole houses full of family treasures has been daunting.

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    1. It took me a long time to be ready. It's a miserable task when you're forced to it, but an uplifting one when you're ready.

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