As we begin readying to move from our home of the last four years in Silver Lake to a new abobe just a few miles away at the start of next month, the process of determining what to keep, donate, sell, gift, and dispose of has begun in earnest. It can be an arduous process for those who feel an innate connection with memories through the physical. For there lays a fear for many of realizing the axiom, “out of sight, out of mind”…that by throwing out any given box of possessions which help maintain the gossamer of recognition to who we once were might otherwise be severed.
But as we only have so much time in the day, so much energy to expend, so much attention to focus, I believe our minds and hearts only have so much emotional expanse for the storage of memories worth safekeeping. This obsessive nature of keeping everything – so prevalent in American culture – is tied to the subconscious worry that yesterday will forever be better than tomorrow, rationalized further by the perception tomorrow’s necessities should dictate how we live today (e.g. “I might need that one day”).
By letting these “things” we accumulate for the promise of attention and use tomorrow, we’ve hampered our own potential to realize unexpected possibilities only presented when our life’s canvas is blank, versus one already obfuscated by the scribbles and splotches of yesterday’s idea, memories, and worst of all, possessions. The true significance of memory isn’t in these singular snapshots delivered by owning and keeping, but the imprint they’ve left upon on us in ways that truly matter during the time they’re with us: how we live, love, and even hurt. For the memories we most cherish are those that clarify, not complicate. And so should it be with those things we bring into our homes…or leave behind.
“So it is important to work at finding interest in simple things, in noticing things and being curious, in looking for connections, significance, puzzles, meaning, explanations. The more able one is to do this, the richer one’s world is. The more things that catch your attention and interest and prod questions and connections as you go about, the more meaningful everyday experience is. If only big, expensive, spectacular things grab your interest, you will be much less often interested in anything. This can be put in terms of openness, awareness, sensitivity and the capacity to be observant. Some people notice things that might have gone unseen, or realise there is significance and meaning in things others might miss. We adult humans have a strong tendency to get bogged down in a normal, everyday, routinized, take for granted consciousness that makes us oblivious to the wonders and miracles all around us. ‘That is only an ant.’ ‘That is only a daisy.’ But some people are struck by what they run into and see in them interesting aspects to mull over.”
– Ted Trainer / 2015 Simplicity Institute Report