Remembering, memories and shared experiences all combine to be part of what we are today.
The past helps to shape the future.
For many people, our memories seem to be inextricably linked to things from the past. It may be the souvenir trinkets you bought on holiday last week, your college sweater from 30 years ago or great-grandma’s fur wrap.
What would happen if you removed all of this stuff from your life? Would the memories disappear? The memories will remain because the human brain is so smart that we do not need physical reminders of events and people from our past.
Let us take the college sweater as an example. Does it add value to your life by being stashed in a box in the attic. Perhaps it is sharing a box with some old text books or the corsage from your debutante ball and the suit you wore to your first job interview? If you got rid of the sweater, corsage and suit would that mean that you did not attend college or your debutante ball and the job interview didn’t happen? No, of course not. Moving items such as this along will not destroy the memories which you have kept alive, despite having no day-to-day physical connection to the item.
The holiday souvenirs are insidious. The Eiffel Tower keyring, leprechaun fridge magnet and so on – are these the ‘real’ memories of your visit? Did you need a keyring or fridge magnet? Will you forget that you visited France and Ireland if these things are no longer stashed in a shoebox in the top of your wardrobe? Time to move them on and remind yourself not to be sucked in to buying these knickknacks in the future. Save your time and money for things that really count and add value.
Then there are the family heirlooms such as that fur wrap. Do you wear it? Can it be refashioned into something you will use? If the answer to both these questions is no, then perhaps you could ask other family members but if no-one wants it perhaps it is time to let it go so that someone can gain some benefit from it. Think of the alternative – the wrap sits in that box in the attic, gathering dust and probably deteriorating until you depart this earth and someone has to go through your possessions. It will be tossed out without a second thought.
If you are struggling with decluttering stuff, stop and put yourself in the shoes of your children (or others) who are sorting through your stuff when you are gone. Ask yourself, “What would they do with this?” Better still, ask them if they would like the item now. If they don’t, you can be rest assured that they will not want it in 10, 20 or 50 years time when you are gone.
I am not saying that you need to get rid of all of your possessions but rather, we need to evaluate what we have and keep that which is useful, we truly love and which adds value to our lives. Anything that has been stashed in a box or cupboard for more than a year needs a careful re-assessment. Depending on what it is, put it on display, use it everydayor refashion it so that it fits with your current needs. If none of these actions are right, move it along to someone who will love and use it.
Don’t let your memories hold you back. Let go of some stuff, free up time and space, go and create new memories. Enjoy!