Journey to a sustainable future

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Past is not in Your Possessions

October 2008
When it comes to decluttering, downsizing, editing, and minimizing our lives, we can get hung up pretty quick by the past.

Having an item links you to a special moment.  It is the past made tangible.  It elicits memories, smiles, and stories.  It helps you remember what you do not want to forget.

And I say, it isn't necessary!  I (still) have my high school letter jacket.  I never wear.  I never plan on wearing it.  I do plan on cutting it up and appliqueing the letter onto a quilt I am going to make.  But if the letter jacket disappeared into thin air tomorrow, it would not negate my experience of marching band.  It would, however, give me a bit more room in my closet.

lighting unity candle at our wedding October 2008
I recently went through our living room bookshelves.  Again.  I feel like they are my nemesis in decluttering.  This time, I threw away the unity candle from our wedding.  I donated to  the birth center a Willow Tree figure given to me by a friend, depicting a mother and her newborn baby.  Ditching the candle (a large, petroleum, carcinogenic fragrance-laced affair) does not mean that I am not married.  It does not mean that I love my husband, or that I wish to be less unified with him.  I do not think about our wedding any less.  Giving away the figurine does not mean I no longer value my friend.  It does not mean I forget what it is like to hold an infant.  It does not take away from the fact that my friend thought of me, or that I dearly love my own baby.

December 2010
My possessions do not contain my past.  I am not embodied in them.  And I prefer to remember the past in other ways than things I have to dust or rearrange.  I talk with my friends and reminisce with my family.  I create an annual photobook of our family, that contains maximum memories at minimum space.  Just because I don't own it, doesn't mean it didn't happen.

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