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March 18, 2008

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Cabrinha kiteboards

That is too cute, thanks for sharing, I am quite impressed!

webjones

I'm only in my mid-40's but several years ago I realized I was at the point where I have everything I need (and that includes income enough to cover necessities - utilities, groceries) and that most of what I will acquire is what I want. There are a few things I have that I'm rather attached to and those are unique items that cannot be replaced at all and not likely to be regained if I let them go. I would want to keep my Jeep. Everything else I need would fit in the back without folding the seats down - and with room to spare.

debby

I have downsized. Not by choice. A very messy divorce, three children suddenly fatherless, trying to make sense of it all, discovering that there are things way more important than 'things'. It is freeing to discover what is not necessary to life, to joy, to peace of mind. That being said, I live happily in my new life, accumulating the things of life. I'd hate to lose it all again. But I also know that it would not be the end of the world if I did.

Rob O.

My Mom recently passed away and going through all of her many years of accumulated belongings has caused me to consider similar topics to those you mention.

By far, the "things" I value most that I've culled from her home are the old photos. Certainly, there are a few items that have strong significance, but for the most part, they're just things. But photos are little moments in time. They're somehow so much more than two-dimensional.

My biggest regret with regard to this is that we never had the chance to review all of these wonderful old photos with Mom. She could've put them into a context that we will never be able to. Many of the old photos aren't labeled and feature people whom we can't identify - probably relatives or friends who were around long before my siblings or I were even born.

Kendra

Here is a link to that suggestion:

http://unclutterer.com/2007/05/10/photographing-your-mementos/

Kendra

@ David: You make a really great and well-written (naturally) point. I follow a blog about simplifying your life, and one of the suggestions they have for these symbolic objects is to photograph them. The picture becomes the relic, the item that reminds you of who you are, and the stuff itself can be tossed out. It's a trick employed on those home makeover shows for hoarders, as well. I've always thought the idea was a bit hokey, but considering it in terms of your friend's mother's stuff, I think it might have worked. Still, can an image substitute for the feel of the cast-iron pan that's the last thing your father ever touched, or a ratty old concert shirt that reminds you of one of the best decisions you ever made?

David Lansing

Several years ago I was living in a friend's parent's beach house for a few months while I tried to straighten out my life and, in return for free rent, agreed to do some painting and generally spruce up the place which looked like it was in a 1960s time-warp. There were a couple of shelves in the living room that held a collection of faux-country antiques like an old iron frying pan, some ancient kitchen implements, and a dusty lineup of kitchen products--like baking soda--in tins from the 30s. It was all dirty, nasty, depressing stuff. Which I boxed up and took out to the garbage. Where it was discovered the next morning by my friend's 78-year-old mother who stood over the trash can in her ratty housecoat, tears running down her cheeks, wondering who on earth had thrown out her precious possessions. "This belonged to my father," she cried. "I was 8-years-old when he died suddenly of a heart attack. He was making me and my sister pancakes. This is the pan he was using. This is the baking soda."
These were her possessions.

I have a t-shirt in the bottom drawer of my dresser from a 3-day rock concert I went to up in Washington in 1971, the year I graduated from high school. Every time I look at that ratty old t-shirt, I think about who I am. Because when I got back from that concert, I wrote a story for the local paper about my wild adventures at this Woodstock-wannabe. When I wrote that story and mailed it off, I told myself that if it was rejected, I'd go to college and become a lawyer. And if it was published, I'd be a writer. That, in a nutshell, is how I became a writer.

So. Get rid of all your things? Okay. But to generalize that things are just possessions to be discarded is to also make the argument that we should tear down old houses, old churches, even the odd Googie-style drive-in restaurant because we don't really need them, do we? Part of what separates us from other species is that we understand the power of symbols. And for many of us, our possessions are not just markers of how successful we are in life but reminders of who we were--and what we've become.

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