I come from a family of pack-rats on my Dad’s side. When I say that, I mean my dad and his father. Now, this could be a “having lived through the Depression and then the War” thing, or this could be something else. I view my dad, in retrospect, as more of a collector since he had collections of guns, weapons, some jewelry, etc.. My grandfather I saw more as a frugal stockpiler since I saw him more as buying Kleenex and coffee at “good prices”, and then keeping then until they were needed. How much of this is “true”, I can’t say since both have been dead more than 20 years and they aren’t here to cross-examine.
What I can say is that I’m not a terribly sentimental person, very frugal, or a collector. There are items in my home that I keep because of what and who they represent. However, they are generally “family” items. When I keep something of sentimental value, I keep it because it reminds me of people I truly love. Gifts, while nice, are prone to being purged if they outlived their intent or no longer amuse me. It’s hard to admit because it makes it sound like these gifts weren’t appreciated. That’s not true.
Recently I made it a goal to purge our house of 100+ items. While nothing of sentimental family value was gotten rid of, I did have to bite the bullet and get rid of books that were no longer needed in our home. That was hard, I admit. Part of me wanted to look at the book and remember when Keb and I would read it together. However, he’s 10. He doesn’t want me reading it to him anymore, and there are other families in need of making memories.
I surprised myself by being able to do this. I also got rid of clothes that no longer fit my size, my job, and/or my personality. That was harder because a) I really am sad that I stopped caring about what I eat, thus gaining weight, and 2) it made me realize that I was wasting money on being someone (Stacy and Clinton) I wasn’t. In essence, I had purchased stuff thinking I would be a better, more sophisticated dresser than I really am. Seeing the potential go was hard. But it needed to happen.
I also rid our home of various knick-knacks that had been lovingly bestowed upon me by various students. These lovely little Dollar Store items, while cute, had ended up in various boxes, rarely seeing the light of day. Sadder still was that I could no longer connect the giver to the object. In the future, I must take a picture so I will know. That way when the object leaves me, I will always have the giver.
In purging, I found that I don’t really want to bring in more items. In fact, as I sit here I look upon three beautiful pictures. I don’t love them. I realize that they represent the love and esteem I have for the person who first showed them to me. I suspect that they need to return to the person who loves them most. However, in doing that, I am taking on a set of dishes a friend doesn’t love, but which I do. They remind me of the rose dishes my dad always bought. So I am violating my own goal, but just this once.
I think it’s interesting to move forward in one’s life and realize how little objects truly end up meaning. Perhaps they are all just diversions, keeping us from our true path.
The new goal: if I don’t use it, love it, or find it beautiful, it must go. And for every object that comes in, one must leave. There’s only so much room in one’s life. Without space, how can you get what you truly want or give what you’re meant to give?