The trouble with memories.

MemoriesWhat do you do with memorabilia? My answer might sound harsh, but really, unless something has significant monetary or historical value, let it go. Even then, sell it or give it to a museum. Keep a few boxes of your favourite things, if you must–photos, letters, reminders of times that make you laugh and feel good, and let the rest go. Be ruthlessly selective about what you keep.

Here’s my theory: beyond the obvious problem of the physical and emotional space things from your past take up, memorabilia carries the risk of sparking the feeling, consciously or unconsciously, that the best times of your life are done. That’s not good, at any age. It’s depressing.

From where I stand, if you are fully engaged in your present life and excited about the future, your past isn’t going to be what you spend your time thinking about. It’s just not.

When my parents died, we found bins and bins of kids’ school books and other mementos that they had kept for years. No one ever looked at them. When I took delivery of my bins, I took one quick look through and threw everything out. Re-reading things I wrote in Grade 4 was slightly amusing for a bit but got tired quickly. I liked school but had no interest in re-living it.

There is maybe one good thing about memorabilia. If you can admit that you have trouble parting with stuff from your past, it allows you the chance to see the “why”– and let it go (i.e. heal). Start by asking– why am I keeping this (paper, object, photo)? Do I feel obligated? Why? To whom? Am I sad those days are gone? Do I need a reminder that I did something good? Am I afraid I will forget? Be forgotten? Do I think I need permission from someone? I am afraid of being callous if I throw this out? Whatever the limiting belief is, acknowledge it, give a wow of relief, and gently let it go.

Maybe I have a low need to reminisce, but I like what I am doing now.  I can still enjoy a few fun chats with friends and family about good times gone by but if too much talk becomes about the past it starts to feel a little weird. And boring.

I do allow my thoughts to go to the past if there is something unresolved emotionally that I need to work through to feel better now.  And then I let it go. Or, if there is something particularly funny that makes me giddy to think about, I can go there again and again–but even then only for a flash.

Really, stuff from the past just bogs you down.  It’s really the stories that keep the good memories alive anyway, not the “stuff”.  Just be here now and enjoy your life.



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