Honor the Memories, Not the Stuff

Attic’s packed to the gills.  Garages and basements loaded with boxes.  It’s all part of the age-old dilemma of what to do with all of our stuff.  I ask you this: do you really believe that the stuff holds the memory?  While I do believe there are sacred objects that should hold a place of honor in our lives, I am not convinced that the boxes and piles are the solution to honoring the memory.

Why is it so hard to let go of the stuff?  I have met many who, in fact, do believe that the object holds that place in time for them.  That just looking at grandmother’s jewelry box helps you to feel her presence or that holding the baseball from your first visit to Fenway Park would bring you right back to the crowded stands.  The real challenge when faced with these piles of things is determining which of these are treasures and are deserving of a special place in your home and which need to be let go.

Just about every client we work with at Living Peace struggles with one version or another of this struggle to let go.  My guess is that everyone at one time in their life must ask themselves the question, “Why am I keeping this?”  It’s a difficult and very personal question; everyone’s answer will be different and there are many considerations that must be made.  What is the same for most is the grief.  Often, by the physical boxing up of these objects, we have indeed put away our own feelings along with it.

But what are our options?  Maybe it’s not reasonable to ask for these things to be simply thrown away, but what if we could find an alternative – a way in which the memory can be honored so that we can let go of the object.  

  • Use a digital camera to catalog the collection.  Take advantage of how far technology has come by snapping and saving pictures of your keepsakes.  Thousands of images can be stored on a memory stick instead of taking up all that space on a shelf.  Then donate your collection.
  • Keep a journal of the stories tied to events and people in your life.  Write the wonderful details of your time in high school or summer camp instead of keeping the yearbooks and art projects.
  • Share the wealth.  Often we have furniture, dishes or linens, passed down to us.  Instead of letting them sit unused in storage, ask around.  There might just be a family who is just starting out who could use the set of dishes or the old rocking chair.

So the next time you find yourself tucking in the flaps in on yet another box for the attic, ask yourself: “Why am I keeping this?” and see if there’s a better way to honor the memory.

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