What Things from Our Past are Really Treasures?

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0


How does it happen?  Nobody ever says, “What I really want is a house crammed to the gills with redundant possessions.”  Yet somehow this is how we end up.  According to Tish Oxenreider, author  of  “Organized Simplicity” and the blogger behind SimpleMom.net, “We are reticent to get rid of things because we believe our cherished memories are tied up in our things.”  If we get rid of things, we’re saying those memories don’t matter to us. “ Not true.”  Still the thought of paring down our things makes us anxious to the point of paralysis. 

 “Curating” can mean selecting with an eye toward quality and personal significance, which family possessions to continue to keep.  “Doesn’t having fewer things, more cherished belongings, sound better than living with tons of extra things?” asks Xorin Balbes, author of “Soulspace: Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life.”  He promises that you will learn something about what you value most as you rightsize your possessions.  “Choosing the things you want to live with, will give you a clear sense of who you are now as opposed to 5 ,10 or 30 years ago,” he says. 

One lady commented “I’m sitting here looking at nine pairs of painted ceramic candlesticks, trying to pick just one.”   When asked why on earth anyone would have so many candlesticks, she sighed.  “Well I’ve had 63 birthdays and 63 Christmases,” she said. “Add one or two souvenirs a year, and a few gifts from grateful houseguests, then factor in the ease of stashing things away in a large house and you’ve got some idea of what I am up against.”

You have to be ruthless.  Curating means picking the gems from every collection and letting the rest go.

  Here is another example that was shared: “I began drastically culling duplicate mementos.  In one box I found letters written to me by my beloved great-grandmother, who died when I was 13.  The letters themselves don’t take up much space; I could have easily justified saving every single one of them.  But instead, I read them all – then I picked one.  One letter makes a wonderful souvenir; too many make it impossible to open the desk drawer.”

 Believe it or not, paring down of things makes us feel richer than before.   A pile of letters from a dead relative at the bottom of a box can be forgotten.   A single cherished letter may be read again every few years.  Lesson learned:  By saving fewer things you increase their value.

You also increase their visibility.  A huge collection tends to overwhelm your senses, whether you spend years accumulating ceramic gnomes or Faberge eggs.  If you’re aiming for sheer quantity, you’re missing the point – and you can literally lose sight of the beauty of each individual object,” Balbes points out.  The object you choose will be the most symbolic –  whether it’s the first, the last, the rarest or your favorite.

Ask yourself.  Do I want this?  Does this make me happy?  If I were moving to a really small space, would I take this with me?

“When you’re able to let things go, it proves that you are more than the sum of your material possessions.”Balbes says. ”You can go from a big house to a small one without losing your identity, because you carry your identity with you.”

 Oxenreider lives by the mantra from the 19th century architect William Morris.  “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  Anytime you curate your things, ask yourself, “Is it useful?  “Do I really think it’s beautiful.”

We tend to think that things we once treasured are automatically valuable today.

In conclusion, “Keeping one’s possessions and treasures and mementos to scale – so they don’t crowd you, or oppress you or burden you – is the ultimate goal of curating your things.  And a life that fits is its very own reward.”

 Excerpts from an article “I Feel Bad About My Stuff” in The ladies Home Journal from May 2012 were used to create this blog.              


Leave a Reply