Monday, January 25, 2016


My kid has this saying: If it doesn't matter in 10 years, it doesn't matter now. Apparently, that sentiment is courtesy of my mother. And, while I totally don't get with it as a justification for academic laziness, I have to say it's apt when it comes to all of the things that we bring home and keep.

To wit: We've been culling (intermittently) for 2 years - to prepare for a reno (which was more theoretical than actual till recently). Every weekend my husband does an hour of recon/reorg/recycle in the basement - and I assist. We are endlessly productive as goes divestment of stuff, but there's always more to contend with. And I'm one of those people who culls extensively. I mean, I'm a cusp minimalist.

Admittedly, my husband is a pack rat of sorts. He's not a hoarder but he can find a sustainable use for just about anything. And really, we've benefited endlessly from his storage of certain odd-ball nails or tools or pieces of wood and plastic. So it's difficult for me to blame him given that this world is teeming with unnecessary duplication and waste.

But it's easy for things to pile up as a kind of metaphor for sustenance. Don't misunderstand - when I say easy I mean, for a divester, it can take a long time. But eventually I'll fill a drawer with things that never see the light of day. Today, I went through one of my night-stands and discovered that more than half of the contents were obsolete. In truth, I found only a couple of letters and keepsakes that were dear to me still. But I also rediscovered a dove-shade cashmere wrap - originally bought for 250 bucks (like, 15 years ago) from Ewanika. It's almost etiolated but in perfect condition. It's perhaps the only thing I've ever stored (rather than worn) because of its dearness and perceived delicacy. Generally, I find that path absurd. I really don't know what element of my psyche has condemned this beautiful garment to the darkness of a wooden drawer as it's in the top-10 of the most perfect textures I've ever worn. No mind. What's done is done. I'm wearing now it as I type.

I'm ruthless when it comes to the craft supplies (and fruits thereof). If it doesn't work, if it doesn't thrill, I give it away. I'm pretty tough on the perishables of the wardrobe too. But how do I toss the last, little white plastic ball that fit into M's Fisher Price box (long gone). How do I say goodbye to the note from my one-time 5 year old, scribbled and misspelled: Pleez dont be mad at me. What about the letter wherein my mother tried to explain to the 4-year-old in me that moving to England was a veritable necessity? Is there any usefulness in half-completed journals?

My point is that, while I'm not vulnerable to sentiment, the edge of nostalgia touches even someone as practical as I happen to be.

I urge myself to keep an eye on things, not because they'll overwhelm me with their eternal concreteness (there's always a charity or, in worst case, a landfill to accommodate them) but because, if they're worthy or useful, I need to remember them. A closed door that acts like dam is very different than one which stores treasures.

But you've got to catalog those treasures. It keeps one honest, no?


  1. I had to look up "etoilated" - a new word for me! But a good one. I love finding those little treasures hidden away... but I have to admit, I"m nostalgic for EVERYTHING which is a bit of a problem! The Japanese have a word, natsukashii, which is usually translated as nostalgic, but is somehow used all the time (like, second only to cute) to describe things that give a sweet, warm memory of another time. I think, like you say, those natsukashii things keep us honest, help us see what has changed, and recognise what endures. It's a good feeling!

    1. Ha! I learned that word in grade 7 science and I've loved it ever since.

  2. I also had to look up etiolated. :) I'm 100% a keeper of things -- over the years I've had to purge and purge, and purge, to keep from being buried in my things. But certain things I could never throw away -- cards, letters, photographs, journals. Those are the things that record my being here on earth, and the people in my life throughout the years...nothing is more important than that (to me).

    1. The impulse to keep is strong, Ebi! I feel it even as I'm purging the things (which I do relatively easily). It's hard not to ascribe the memory to the thing.