Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Why we keep the things we keep

Over the past 5-6 months I have been trying to reduce the things I own. It seems like it would be easy to get rid of things you just don't use, or just don't need, but it's not. People are sentimental creatures, we give life and emotion to inanimate objects, we project our feelings onto them. Thus we hold on to things because they are "important" to us. It is because of those feelings that it has taken me over a year to get rid of some of the things that I have.

I started small, getting rid of things that had no sentimental value, nor use. The next round, I got rid of race shirts that I didn't think would go well with my race quilt (yes, one day, i'll learn how to sew and quilt all my race shirts that don't fit).... Then came sneakers that I didn't wear anymore.

I tend to be a collector, but not always of things worthy of collecting. I had things like old redsox ticket stubs, all my concert ticket stubs, and old race bracelets. Those things were a little more difficult to get rid of. But I found that once I committed to getting rid of them, it wasn't that hard. The reality is that people only have so much to give. These objects are taking up part of my emotional energy that could be better directed towards other things/people/activities.

More recently, I donated a few items that held a lot of sentimental value. One was a hoodie that I have had since 9th grade. It was one that I designed with my high school best friend (for our paintball team). That hoodie represented almost everything about me in my early life. Paintball was my passion, and I spent every moment of my free time with Jared. I thought about it long and hard. I put it in the bag, I took it out of the bag. In the end, I let it go. The fact is, Jared and I don't even talk anymore. This tends to happen with most of my friends who have had kids and are living more of an "adult" life, whilst I play vagabond bachelor. I think part of letting the hoodie go was telling myself that it was OK that people come and go in your life. Part of it was that it just wasn't a very comfortable hoodie anyways. I needed to downsize, and now I am down to 3 hoodies that fit well and are comfortable. Of the 3, 2 have sentimental value, and the 3rd one is starting to develop a little history. Eventually, I'll let one of them go, but for now, they are too comfy...

The other items I let go were my first pair of racing shoes. The Brooks ST Racers. I haven't worn them in 10 years, but I still held onto them. In fact, I had 4 pairs (to go with my almost 50 pairs of sneakers). The last purge was a big one. I had donated over 27 pairs of sneakers to goodwill. I must say, donating the sneaker was relatively easy compared to the MFL (massholes for life, that was the name of our team lol) hoodie.

This particular blog entry was inspired by my friend Rebecca. She asked me to send a photo of something that had sentimental value to me, and tell a story about it. For a week, I thought about what I would write about. I have all my race bibs, I have my race medals, I have my pint glass collection, I have my first carabiner, I have something that was given to me the day I was born.

Whilst rummaging through my race bibs (looking for Big Lake Half Marathon 2007), I stumbled onto my Penguin Pizza beer list and immediately knew that I was going to write about it. It's funny that I keep a piece of paper that chronicles exactly when I had each beer. It's really a 10 month journey that encompasses undergrad and grad school. From a Bachelors degree, to starting the Doctorate program. All the trials and tribulations throughout that period of my life. New friends, old friends, breakups, new loves, all of it is there. What an emotional journey. I never really kept a diary growing up. I would write things here and there, but I've always had a knack of remembering things so I have never felt the need to write things down.

It's weird, when I gave up the hoodie, I was ok with it because I knew that my memories that the hoodie encompassed would not go away. That period of my life meant so much, but also so little in the grand scheme of things. I still remember the tournaments, the long drive to the cape every weekend, the custom paintball guns, to paying 12 bucks to fill up the tank. Yet here I am, holding on to this piece of paper, not willing to let it go.

Part of being minimalist is that things have to serve multiple purposes (at least it gives more reason to keep the item). This journal into my past takes up relatively little space, compared to a hoodie, not to mention, Jared (high school best friend) was also part of many penguin nights. Is it weird that this all came up, 24 hours from his birthday?

How does someone who is so sentimental (myself), cope with trying to be a minimalist. I'll let you know when I move into my van next year.... ;-)

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