Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Holding on to the past?

When should someone let go of the past?  More importantly, when should you let go of past stuff?  It may mean the difference between a calm, clean home setting and an appearance on the show Hoarders.  I've been lucky enough to move twice (uhh, did I say lucky?) in the past two years, and I have purged a great deal of stuff.  However, I am currently left with a quandary: Should it stay or should it go?  I have several items in the attic at my former rental house, and luckily my former roommate has been kind enough to let said stuff stay.  I need to decide to dump it or keep it.

Back in the stone age, or even the pioneer days, too much stuff was never an issue that plagued the average person.  I don't think cavemen were complaining about animal skins piling up by the dozens like, say, the greeting cards I've kept and collected over time.  And I seriously doubt that when Papa Ingalls was loading the wagon, Laura's massive collection of folded notes from high school had to tag along.  My point is that as time has skipped along, we as humans have accumulated more and more stuff.  And not just stuff.  I'm not really referring to the glasses or the afghan or even the edible underwear (hey, I don't judge) that you bought yesterday.  I'm talking about mementos.  When should they hit the pavement, on your allotted trash or recycle day?  Or better yet, or better for the environment, donate it.

This draws up a larger question as well...when should a gal get rid of the stuff from her ex? I have to admit that I kept certain things I'd become attached to after my split.  Purses, namely.  Although, I did manage to part with a few at a yard sale.  I had three phases: dump it, keep it, dump it.  In phase one, I was packing up the house we shared and I was ready for everything to go.  I gave a porch, that's right a porch, full of stuff to a donation center, which they graciously picked up for me!  After my initial move, I was in minimalist heaven, or so it felt, until more and more items with ties to the ex surfaced.  A Christmas ornament here, a t-shirt there.  Before I knew it, I was treasuring a past that wasn't so shiny as if it were wrapping paper on Christmas morning (still on the boxes).  When I "came to", I realized that that stuff had to go too.  And so it did.  I actually sold a pair of earrings and my wedding bands (I paid for the rings themselves) at a second-hand antique shop while I was in Palm Springs on a trip.  It felt like a lot of closure, and a lot of relief.  Thus, the third cyclical 'dump it' phase.

I have more questions than I have answers, and from time to time, I still stumble across items that "we" purchased, but I usually find a justification for keeping them...seeing as how they made it this long, and outlasted all three phases.  So, I usually don't feel bad about them.  Men are just as prone to hang on to mementos as women are, in my personal belief system, that is.  I think there are probably pieces here and there creeping around his closet, his bureau drawer, or even his bathroom.

How I Met Your Mother did an episode about this early on, when Ted discovered that Robin's dogs were all gifts from exes.  He argued that his ex stuff was just stuff, materials, but could he really ask Robin to get rid of her living, breathing reminders of past relationships?  This was a really thought-provoking episode.

I guess the long and short of it is this...hang on to what you need, but don't live your everyday life like you're looking at a photo album of the past.  Toss it.  That's my personal standpoint.

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