Minimising Objects of Nostalgia (ARCHIVE)
Originally posted November 16, 2016
Have you noticed that there are some days it’s easier to minimise your belongings than others? All this month I am feeling nostalgia and sadness when attempting to let go of certain things. I think when most people start to minimise their belongings, they start with the easy stuff – the things they don’t love or use. But if you are on this journey long enough, you start looking at the purpose of every object in your life, even the ones you love.
One thing that I have been thinking of letting go of is an old soft toy. It was given to me by a former boyfriend on my birthday nearly 17 years ago. I feel no nostalgia for the boyfriend, just the soft toy. It’s a raggedy old ape whose face is tearing apart to reveal its innards. It has been in my life for so long, sitting on my bed, staring at me with its shiny, sad, beady eyes. I’ve formed it into weird poses in times of boredom. Former lovers have made fun of it. I’ve cried into it in hard times.
Strangely, I’m also having trouble letting go of my DVD’s. I have reduced the number of them this year, but what is left are my most favourite films and TV series. Let me make this clear; I do not watch these regularly. In complete honesty, I never watch them. And yet letting go of them is hard somehow. They are just a pile of plastic, but I have this undeniable attachment to them. The only reason I can think of is that I’ve loved most of these films and TV series for years, and as a result I associate them with my very identity.
So what to do in these situations? How do we find a balance between keeping the most precious things and not having too much nostalgia cluttering our lives?
With regards to the ape, his name is Primate and I love him dearly. Even though he has no function, I’m just not ready to let him go. I think maybe he just needs to come out of storage and be a part of my life again. Primate is a keeper, because when I look at him I feel something. Some minimalists might say I should take a picture of him and then set him on fire, or take the Ed Gein approach and chop off his face to make him into a lamp or belt or something. But I want to hold him, I want to touch him, I want to caress his soft form. My love for him is undeniable and he must stay with me.
Primate, how I love thee…
The DVD’s, however… I know my feelings about these are absolutely silly. I can continue to love these films without them sitting on my shelf. I can continue to be ‘me’ without owning the discs that ‘prove’ it. There are definitely digital versions of these films and TV series available, and those do not require any physical space or a dusty DVD player.
My advice is, when you feel a soft spot for an object in your life, really consider what it does for you. Minimalism isn’t a rulebook that defines every single item in our lives. Minimalism is about holding onto the most important things.