my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

March 15, 2013

cherishing mementos vs. hoarding stuff

at the moment, i am spring cleaning and organizing closets, and i remembered i had this and never posted it. i wrote it last june, when we were moving into the house we're in now. i am still no better about not holding onto things for reason only worthwhile to me...

are you tired of hearing about my moving adventures? yeah, i'm kind of tired of talking about them too. but, the fact is that it is the all consuming entity of my life right now. and, if i don't talk about it nicely like this, i'll probably just start randomly screaming on street corners, holding up signs that say "no more cardboard!" made out of cardboard, of course. because when you're yelling on street corners, it helps to get your point across if you look extra crazy.

my point of this post is that i have lots of stuff. too much stuff by some people's reckoning. but i'm trying to get better about all the random crap i keep. there have been boxes of things that haven't moved into the new house, they went straight to the dump or the donation pile. and there have been boxes that i've opened, and instead of trying to find homes of all contained there-in, i have gotten one of our lovely contractor bags (the 70 gallon kind designed to hold bodies), and filled it with all manner of stuffs.

and sometimes, the boxes are filled with things that i just look at and wonder why they got packed in the first place. those are the easy boxes to deal with, because there's no attatchment to them. it's the other boxes that are harder to figure out. ones that are filled with things that i don't really want, but feel like i need in some way. or it's filled with things that are still perfectly good and in working order, but nobody else wants, so i feel like i need to hold onto it, just in case.

just in case is kind of my downfall. that phrase is what does me in. because there have been boxes filled with old books or toys, or perhaps my wedding decorations from years ago, perfectly fine things that could totally be reused, but nobody else wants. so i think about getting rid of that stuff. and then, of course, i think that maybe tomorrow i'll need it, absolutely have to have it, so i should hold onto it. mind you, i haven't needed any of it in years and years, but tomorrow may be different! i made suddenly need to decorate my yard with frilly paper streamers, or absolutely have to set up a tea party for 20 stuffed bears, whose origins i no longer remember. so i have this burning desire to hold onto things, just in case.

that feeling is honestly easier to overcome than the other side of my problem. because i've become rational enough to understand that if i haven't used it in more than three years, or even gotten it out of the box it's stored in for more than three years, chances are i'm not going to need it. and if some random and crazy "just in case" moment comes up that i absolutely need it, i will go and buy a new version. because the truth is, in real today money, none of it is terribly expensive to replace.

the other side of things are the boxes filled with stuff that i deem irreplaceable. stuff that isn't worth anything to anybody else, but that i feel i must hold onto, lest i forget. they are boxes filled with physical memories. and yet, i'm getting to the point where i realize i don't need to save everything. still, it's very hard to figure out what is worth saving for all of time, and what are things i can let go of. because this is really where my problem lies, i want to save everything, and given the space, i know that i would.

ok, so honestly, my problem is that, even though i don't have the space, i try to save everything. like my closet is filled more with stuff i want to hold onto then clothes for me to wear. and the crazy part is, i am perfectly fine going through my clothes and getting rid of the things i don't use, so that i just enough "nice" outfits to get me through maybe a week.

and i can step back and realize that there is something slightly twisted in that viewpoint. but it's really very hard to get rid of the things you can never replace. like the boxes of drawings and art the boys made me, i have a box for every year that they were in school, starting in preschool. i've also saved all their writing and test and report cards. not that i know what i'll ever do with any of it, because i have a funny feeling they'll never want it. i also, for about twenty years, saved every card, birthday or thank you or congratulations, i ever got. i realized it was a silly thing to do, to save every card, so i stopped, but i still have a whole box from when i was still saving that i just can't bring myself to get rid of. and of course there are my notebooks. two boxes worth. most of them are a testament to my craziness. i finally was able to get rid of a box of disks; 20, filled to capacity with randomness, 3.5 inch diskettes to be precise, and the only real reason i was ok with getting rid of them was because i couldn't find the program i needed to open them anymore.

harder still to part with, but easier to rationalize why i keep them, are all the bits and broken things from all the people i'll never see again. i have a jewelry box filled with odds and ends of broken necklaces and bracelets, many from my grandmother who died years ago, some from friends i'll never see again. the hat from the hospital nursery, and pictures and scribbles and other things, all from my dear niece we lost too soon. and then there is the most random box, with a license plate and an old copy of macbeth and all the bits from high school physics projects and all the photos i took and some i stole from photo albums, all the things that remind me of my brother. and so many other random things from all the people i've lost and are gone forever.

so yes, i suppose that's why i really save all that i do. because i'm afraid to forget. memories are not something i can rely on. they twist and confuse me. my mind plays tricks on me. it's really the part of me that i know is not quite right, the part that can't keep the past straight. but with physical things, it's easier to hold them and remember what really happened.

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