I knew this day would come. It’s been nearly a month since my grandfather passed away, and we have started the slow and painful process of going through his things. For most of his life, he was a bit of a packrat, but fortunately began to try to cull his possessions a couple years ago.
Recent events have set me back on my mission to reduce the number of things I own. I had planned to start going through my things and finding 20-25 items to give/throw away per month. I have discovered the task is much harder than I thought, particularly now that so many things have sentimental value.
Just Because You Get Rid of Something, You Don’t Lose the Memories
I wish I could properly attribute this idea, but I honestly don’t remember who told me this, or where I heard it. However, it is too profound not to share. When faced with the decision to keep something of sentimental value, but lacking practical value, it is important to remember that while you can give away things, you can also keep the memory of why you found that item sentimental.
For instance, I found a small box of rocks I had collected as a child during the many walks I took with my grandfather. Unbenownst to me, my grandfather saved those rocks for over thirty years, probably because they conjured up memories of us spending time together.
It is just one of the emotional discoveries I’ve found in the last few weeks, and I initially set it aside in a “Keep” pile. After reflecting on our good times, however, I came to the conclusion that those rocks really had no value. They were simply reminders.
I didn’t need the rocks to remember all those trips to the mountains to hike trails. I didn’t need them to remember the time we camped along a mountain stream and collected the smoothest rocks we could find – worn down by centuries of erosion from the icy currents.
Hanging onto that box would mean I’d have to find a place to store it, or display it. It would add to the number of “things” I have to worry about finding a home for. I decided it wasn’t worth it.
I moved the box to the “Toss” pile, but then decided I would give these rocks a more proper send off. One of the reasons I collected rocks as a kid was because I loved to skip them along the many mountain creeks and lakes we camped around.
So this weekend, I think I’ll take the kids to a local lake and we’ll skip these rocks across a new body of water. The rocks will eventually sink to the bottom, under many feet of water in cold darkness. But we will have created new memories that will stay on the surface. These memories will live on and be reflected upon warmly by both me and my children for many years to come.