I’m a collector. Some might say pack-rat is more accurate but, to be clear, I don’t keep everything indiscriminately; I am big on recycling, reusing and donating. My problem is that my tendency has been to keep too much because I have struggled to part with things that were gifts or associated with a trip, event or occasion.
For years, I have captured memories through pictures, programs and tickets as well as tradtional art samples. and tsoke . I am able to evoke many wonderful experiences – and some not-so-wonderful ones – by looking through these collected photos and artifacts. This can be nostalgic, even comforting. But there is a huge downside to this approach in that it tends to make it hard to let go of things because they evoke memories of people, places and activities that have been important.
In the past, I would start with the best of intentions to par down the various flotsam and jetsam accumulated through my life, an effort that more often than not ended with me traveling on a trip down memory lane perhaps making, at best, a small reduction in the amount of stuff. Sometimes I’d convince myself that I might use /display / repair / re-purpose some particular item but usually it just went back in the box. Which inevitably meant that I still needed to keep the box, even when I reduced the number of items it contained. I was eager to get more space and clear the clutter but struggled with letting go.
Earlier this year, it hit me. It is so simple! I don’t know why I didn’t realize this years ago. In fact, I did realize that but didn’t take action on the connection. What I am really collecting is stories. I don’t need the stuff to keep the stories. Instead, I need to make sure that I record the stories so I can release the associated things, hopefully to a new life out of storage and to use as intended.
And from that realization, the origins of my Keep the Stories project. Left to my usual strategies, I would continue to fall back to old ways. Instead, I have done some research and playing with various approaches and have been developing some new strategies that are working for me. I will be sharing some of these with you here. I hope that you will stay tuned and share some of your own methods for simplifying and letting go while also holding on to the unique stories.