Friday, August 21, 2009

You can't trace time

As I’ve been unpacking boxes and sorting through my possessions, it has struck me how much changes. I used to collect things, now I shy away from accumulating too much stuff. At some point, I was very fond of marble. I have quite a few marble objects that – while I still think are interesting – I know that today I would not purchase and bring home. I was also quite fond of oak, and the fashion world has moved on from that particular trend (several years ago, actually, but I haven’t shopped in a while). I have been out in the stores in the past weeks, and noted how dark the furniture is right now. I know that there are people who, from time to time, completely redecorate their homes. I have not been one of those people, mainly because I could never afford to be. In the early years, I had mostly castoff furniture, and remember my assorted second-hand (third? fifth?) couches. I was proud when I could finally afford to buy stuff on my own, and I used to buy things at the used furniture stores and refinish them.

I had an interesting little chat with a guy at a furniture store yesterday. It was midmorning, and the store was empty, and he shared with me some anecdotes about their merchandise. The last time I’d been in that particular store, it looked completely different. But that was when the economy was doing well and people were expanding, buying bigger and bigger houses, and filling those houses with big pieces of furniture. We talked about downsizing, and then he said he would like to move into a smaller place himself, but he didn’t know what he’d do with all of the stuff in his basement.

It is comments like that, and watching shows like Clean House, that really motivate me to pare down as I sift through my boxes and evaluate the worthiness of many of my things. It is so easy to collect lots of things. And then we attach feelings to those things and we feel obligated to hold on to them. I have found myself really struggling with whether to keep several objects, that when I was honest with myself, I no longer needed, and had never really been all that fond of in the first place, and yet I felt guilty at the thought of putting them aside. Some of them were from family members. Some were from times that were highly charged emotionally. The common thread that ran through them all was that they no longer fit with who I am and where I am now.
I think it is good to periodically sort through our lives and weigh what is working and what isn’t, what fits and what doesn’t, and what has outlived its usefulness. Change happens. I don’t want to be stuck in the past, or buried under the weight of it, either.


  1. What a beautiful post. Your words ring true for me since I have so many things that were given to me by deceased family members, so they hold an emotional worth well beyond their physical worth or even my fondness for them. I like them, but have often said that I would be fine without all of it.

    You can replace everything but people, so that is where your focus should be, right?


  2. I'm not one to hang onto stuff for long, unless it has really deep meaning to me. And not too many things do right now. My parents on the other hand, I DREAD the day I have to go through 150+ years worth of treasures.

    Great post!

  3. Bev: Thank you so much. I really believe it is important to minimize the stuff we have around us. And concentrate on our relationships and experiences.

    Samsmama: Good for you! And I know what you mean. My parents have LOTS of stuff, and I'm the oldest daughter - you know what that means.

  4. i agree sooo much! PAring down is very hard for me but I'm trying to be honest about the reasons I have what I have- and I love clean house too!!