I was a year and a half into my minimalism journey when I was finally able to pare down the items I was holding on to for nostalgic purposes. You know, those things you don’t use, but you keep because seeing it evokes fond memories. Often these are trinkets without large monetary value that you might keep in a small (or large) box. These things are not necessarily viewed as useful or essential, but they are often the most difficult to part with.
When I finally sat down to go through the two boxes of memorabilia, there were all manner of items:
- a least a dozen ticket stubs from college football games
- a small gift tag from a gift a close friend had given me
- birthday and thank you cards from friends and co-workers
- coins collected from my travels to Europe
- a car antenna decoration (that NEVER once was used on my car antenna) from my high school class trip to the Magic Kingdom
- infant baby shoes in perfect condition
The list goes on. Seeing each item made me smile, but I knew I didn’t need to keep these things in these boxes. I had to purposefully go through the boxes if I even wanted to be reminded of these memories. I set aside a couple items that could be useful around my house whether as a tool or decoration, and the rest were tossed or donated. In that moment, I felt proud for taking such a huge step towards less attachment to physical objects.
Fast forward to one month ago. I was lying in bed thinking about my to-do list for the next day. All of a sudden, I was reminded of those old items of memorabilia. Specifically the unused invitations from my husband and I’s wedding. I felt a little panicky realizing I wasn’t sure if I had tossed or kept those items. And if I had tossed them, had I even taken a picture? I wanted to remember every detail of those invitations. I felt compelled to get out of bed (it was probably close to 11pm) to search for them. But then I stopped. And I proceeded to ask myself a few questions:
Why was it so important to still have these specific memorabilia items?
Were they more important than other trinkets I no longer had?
Was that event not of value to me if I threw out the corresponding “paperwork”?
Was it crucial to my relationship with my husband to still have these invitations?
Would I rather spend time collecting tchotchkes from my marriage or paying attention to the present and working towards an improved relationship with my husband?
Asking myself these questions immediately allowed me to reset my focus and calm all the anxious thoughts in my head. I knew that whether or not I kept every physical item from my wedding didn’t influence the quality of my marriage or the love I have for my husband. And the same sentiment applies towards all the other items I let go of from my memorabilia boxes. I went to sleep that night feeling content and satisfied knowing that keeping my focus on people and experiences, not the things that come along with them, is what is allowing me to live a happy, fulfilled life.