Certain things make me inexplicably sad.
A couple examples?
A ‘catch-all’ drawer, for instance. We all have them in our houses. (At least I do, and mine is a jungle!)
If you have one, it’s probably in the kitchen. Everything’s in there – from the odd pencil to rubber-bands. From Post-Its, with numbers and scribbled abbreviated notes we don’t actually remember what they stand for, to flat, bendable magnets advertising a doctor’s office or a local pizza place. And and of course the ubiquitous Allen wrench.
(Did you know that the Allen wrench is also called a ’hex key’ because of its six sides? Did you also know it was invented in the mid-1800s?)
Oh! Speaking of keys, lest we forget that key-ring from our trip to Paris which we know we’ll never use yet – there it is!
Why is it so hard to dump everything from this drawer into a bin? Well, because who knows when we’ll need that rubber-band someday! That Post-It with the numbers and scribbled notes? They could be the password for the internet. We just need time to remember what it means.
What if ? What if ?
Another thing that brings me down is that pencil holder we all have somewhere at home – like a quiver displaying a random assortment of pens with very dubious work ethics, sticking out like arrows – each slyly luring us with flaked off or slightly rubbed off advertising on the sides. And of course, pencils with worn down graphite. Or worse yet, pencils with no points at all – broken off while writing – now offering no ability to write, no hope for creativity.
Maybe there’s a sharpener in that ‘catch-all’ kitchen drawer.
For no good reason, we hold on to things – clothes we won’t wear again because –
Suppose they come back in fashion?
I could lose those 5 lbs!
Books we won’t ever open again and knickknacks that have memory but no sentiment attached. (Those , I’ve always felt, are mutually exclusive).
Why do we hold on to things so much? And how do we convince ourselves to let go?
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The bottom line is
If you haven’t used it for a year, you don’t need it. Like, of course, you do.
So who am I fooling?
I have dinner plates that have not seen the light of day in more years than I care to think on.
I have embroidery patterns that are from the 1950s. Outdating my kids.
And Hessie is right. They are the tangibles of our memories. Just looking at them evokes trains of thoughts that are sweet and nostalgic.
So find a small spot in the house to keep those “tangi- mems” , and a big spot in your memory box out of which you can take out whichever makes you smile.
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When I decluttered my house last month, I threw away so many things I kept in the house. My problem was not just a catch-all drawer but the whole house (well…that’s why my daughters call me a hoarder.) For example, I had more than 1000 pencils, hundreds of crayons and markers thinking we might need them later. My Mottainai mentality (not being wasteful) and anxiety kept all the unnecessary items. Like you, everytime I saw them it made me sad and depressed. With my daughters’ help, I let them go. I kept a few pencils, one set of crayons and markers. I got rid of scissors that barely cut, staplers, and pencil sharpeners, clips, erasers, rubber bands, and pens I don’t like. During the process, I kept telling myself, if I ever need them again, I can buy them anytime. The end result was amazing. Now when I see them, I feel joy and happiness. I know they are there ready to serve their purpose. Well…these practical items were easier to let go compared to “emotional” feeling-attached items… What do I do with the king size blankets my deceased mother-in-law knitted when my daughters were little and they don’t want them anymore… Cards, letters, presents from my family and friends? How can I convince myself to let go? My decluttering journey continues…
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I know the feeling. I too have that no “mottainai” mentality. I grew up in a poor country and learnt to save everything just in case we might need it for later.
But, the feeling that purging brings so far outweighs being able to use something from my catch all drawer that I don’t see the point in keeping it.
I am so happy you were able to let go of so much and saw the benefit of all the tough decisions. ❤️
Dear. I think it’s the same thing as your last last post that is talked about friends. I suppose our brain has limited space. We just can remember right now unless fashion turns back, something reappears yesterday or some special time we remembered deeply.
I have an old soul and I like to think about some old times, such as high school time, etc. My favorite author in China named San Mao(She passed away, so sad). I read her books many times before. Although I didn’t read again for a long time, her books still in the center of my bookshelf.
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I think you’re right.
You do have an old soul.
I saw in this documentary I watched, if you love something, you’re attached to it, you collect books by a certain author – those are part of your history and should not be gotten rid of. However we hold on to things that are not really part of our story or don’t hold a place in our memories. Perhaps those should be discarded
I still have my fave pair of jeans that I wore at UG
Twenty lbs later , there is absolutely no way I could ever fit into it ..
Why do I insist on keeping it ?
Those jeans outlived my marriage , two jobs , some friendships.. it’s a constant, a reminder of a simpler / happier time in my life ..
I know it’s just an object .
The memory lives in my brain ..
But it’s tangible and real . I can hold it in my hands .
I didn’t imagine it : I was once this skinny , I did wear these on the “ catwalk “ , and to visit you in the art room , and to endless lectures on Trusts , Criminal Law etc
Perhaps it’s the solidity of the object , the thing you hold on your hands , that lets you know with a beautiful certainty that you did in fact go to Paris , and buy a keyring .
And we all need a little bit of certainty in our ephemeral existence .
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I love how your comment took me back to UG too. And I also remember those jeans and the art room visits and you on the catwalk between Faculty of Arts and the Law building (don’t forget how we used to hang out on the Ledge below mom’s office.)
Those ‘special’ things are more than just the thing itself. You take it in your hands and you bring a world back to you – smells, sounds, what the air was like.
So if it was indeed the happy time you remember it to be, then the thing is not just a thing but a tiny piece of memory wrapped in sentiment. And you’re right. We all need that.