I was interested to hear while visiting a storage unit in the city, that a man had rented a big unit for over eight years for his grandfather’s dining-room table because he could just not bear to part with it.
Eventually, the rising cost of the unit forced him to rethink his “store it don’t sell it” philosophy and he finally took it out of storage.
“He had a real issue giving it up,” the owner of the storage unit tells me. “I see this often with people – they get so attached to things – they’d rather store it here than actually part with it properly”.
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I may have been shocked at these stories if I had not started a big decluttering process. Notes on small pieces of paper from my beloved and departed mom and dad – written well over 30 years ago – were some of the treasures I found among boxes and boxes of paper clutter.
“Don’t forget to say your prayers, Viv,” said one of them. Photos from time spent in South America working and travelling sparked all sorts of memories I had forgotten, and the love letters where exes promised to love me forever, and I them.
I laughed and cried, felt shame and remorse, anger and joy, as I waded through the boxes, but still managed to hold on to two full boxes of memories that, as Marie Kondo says, “sparked joy” plus those that reminded me of loved ones long gone.
For many, downscaling to smaller homes means getting rid of stuff and clutter. It’s an emotional journey that requires gentleness. But how liberating to burn old memories that hurt – and to gently hold on to the good ones.