Nothing will make you realize how much crap you have like moving. My husband and I bought our first house last year and I’m still aghast at how much stuff we’ve accumulated. We had 80% of our items in storage for most of the year while we were in transition, and even with only that 20% of our items, I started to think I could easily live with just what we were using, what did I possibly need beyond this? I started thinking about just burning everything that we had in storage. I mean, what was all that junk?!?
I’ll tell you what it was: Aside from our furniture – which my husband is grateful that I didn’t actually burn – I found boxes of assorted wine glasses from various trips to wineries, knickknacks from travel adventures (because I HAD to have a hand-carved dragon statue from the base of the Great Wall of China), clothing that doesn’t fit but we’re desperately hoping does again someday, piles of photographs stuck together that “I know one day I will get to putting these in an album or framing” (translation – I’m gonna turn one kind of pile of stuff into a different kind of pile of stuff), and 5,000,000,000,00,833 coffee mugs. WHY?!!
Truthfully, we all know how this happens. When we’re lucky enough to have good experiences, we want to hold on to them, and we tie our memories to totems and mementos. So we keep the free taster glass from the brewery. We bring home the coffee mug from the Grand Canyon. We buy the must-have t-shirt from when we went to see the world’s largest troll collection.
Technology has given us even more tools to capture the moment, which we gladly utilize, even at the cost of these experiences. We go to a live concert and watch the whole thing through our phone screen, recording the event so that we can experience it later…on screen. We bury ourselves in trinkets, take thousands of photos and hours of videos so that we can remember the moments, and (lets be honest) so others can know that we’ve had cool experiences.
You know what I learned from my stuff being in storage all that time? I forgot that I had this crap. My precious crap that reminded me of my precious memories. Wonderfully though, I didn’t forget my adventures, at least not yet anyway. But realistically, even the memories will fade away someday, no matter how many knickknacks we have around us. And then our mementos will just be what they always have been – just stuff.
I’m not saying that having items you collect from fun experiences and cool places automatically makes you a hoarder. If your mementos bring you joy, then I’m all for that. I’m just saying that if they don’t, it’s ok to let it go, be grateful for the moment, and clear your space of clutter.
But what about the priceless items we pick up that can only be gotten in one place?!? Truth bomb: We live in a global world now – you can buy a version of every single thing on Amazon. True story: I found the exact same hand-carved dragon statue last year in a shop on the south side in China town, the sticker said ‘made in Taiwan’.
So here is your zen for today:
It is important to live in the moment. Everything physical disintegrates. Pictures, knickknacks, doo-dads, they all pass away. Even our memories break down and dissolve eventually. So take it all in. Live in the present, in the right now, in this moment. Don’t waste it trying to recreate it; trying so hard to capture it that you miss the authentic wonder unfolding right in front of you. Experience it now and cherish the memory as long and as vividly as possible, and then move on to the next adventure.