I wait for October every year, ready to drink in the Fall colors and soak up the last of the sunshine. Summer’s heat finally passes and for a few fleeting weeks, I’m in heaven. Trees like this fill me up.
But no matter how much I want it to happen, Fall doesn’t last and soon the leaves are on the ground:
With the memory of those beautiful leaves, we turn towards winter. Although we loved the Fall colors, we don’t keep piles of leaves around to remind us of their former glory, so why do we do that with our stuff?
So much of the clutter in our homes is nothing more than a pile of dead leaves, the faded remnants of something once glorious. We hold onto it, impossibly hoping to capture something of the past.
We went to see a movie that we loved, and so we hold onto the ticket stub, the parking coupon, even the empty popcorn bag.
We had a fabulous time at our wedding, so we hold onto our dress (embalmed in a box) and the dried flowers from the bouquet, the extra invitations and thousand upon thousands of photographs.
We hold onto the things, mistaking them for the experience. But the experience is part of us, folded into the storehouse of memories we all carry with us. We might enjoy seeing one photograph from our wedding day, framed and on the wall. But we don’t need three dozen wedding albums, the receipt for the wedding cake, the selection of fabric samples for the bridesmaids’ dresses or any of the other thousands of objects we save to hold onto the experience.
In fact, the things often take away from the experience, as we dust them and catalog them, and store them and ignore them. Walk around them, shuffle through them, then stuff them in the basement.
Can you see yourself as the perfect curator of your life? Much like a museum or art gallery, if we display less rather than more, we’ll see more rather than less. Pick a select few well chosen objects that truly highlight the times you want to be reminded of, and set the rest free.
The experiences themselves don’t disappear. I’m not suddenly unmarried if I pass on my wedding dress. In fact, you could argue that with less stuff to tend to, my marriage is more vital and more present – I can focus on the here and now, instead of being stuck in the thankless task of curating the past.
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