Monday, August 29, 2011

Ninety Seventh Post - Existential

Every so often I feel overcome with big life questions: Why are we here? What is our purpose?

We are born, 
      we live, 
           we die. 
Certainly much happens between those three pillars, but why? 

Perhaps it's because I'm in the process of culling all things unnecessary from my old house in Coldstream. Boxes of 'meaningfulness'. Lifetime memories packed away. Church bulletins from 1940. 

We keep these because? Because they give context to our lives; they give meaning. How long do we keep these things? When is it safe, perhaps even prudent to let them go? 

Old, threadbare childhood blankets; empty boxes that once housed brand new gadgets; stuffies now discarded, sitting alone on top of whatever has room to hold them. It nigh impossible to by-pass nostalgia when cleansing the physical. Interesting how the physical reminder triggers such emotions. In this case the vast emotions are positive.   However, digging deeper finds old letters filled with ramblings of angst and fear. Is it time to shred those old rancid thoughts? 

This stuff hold memories of a family. These objects spill over with laughter, love, joy, tears, heartache, and sometimes silence. Some questions are answered, some discoveries provoke more questions. But is the time now? Can we safely discard the physical without losing a part of us? 

Disclosure: I am a thrower outer. I don't keep a lot of stuff. My children are keepers. Mostly they like to keep their stuff at my place. It's a gentle process - this nudging of someone to let go. 

It's a life lesson: 
        we are born (we get), 
              we live (we use), 
                    we die (we let go). 
And in between the pillars we do the best we can with the resources we are given. 

How are you doing between your pillars?


  1. I often think what treasures! when they find things stowed away which would otherwise be lost forever.
    We look at and buy antiques.
    We wonder what their history was?
    Who would be interested more in the past life of things than the family who touched it and left their DNA on it
    Today even moreso copies are not originals
    Many of the things you have may be scrap booked or put on a quilt or made into a wall picture under glass.One day it will reach a museum because all the other things were thrown out and therefore lost forever.

  2. It's an interesting process. The church bulletin from 1940 will be kept. Many of the stuffies shall be recycled at the Mission. Pictures are being scanned and saved to hard drives.
    It was difficult to let go of an old thread bare quilt from when my boys were toddlers. To keep a scrap seems sufficient. Much of what we've kept for decades is now ready to be let go. This letting go and keeping is a tricky balance. What doesn't go is my many, many boxes of music. So fun to pull out the Beethoven, Bach, Debussy etc and have a good plunk on the piano. Thanks lady, I always appreciate your comments! Now, it's back to the culling.

  3. I'm managing okay, I guess. Some days better than others.

  4. I wouldn't describe me as a "keeper". I am more of a lazy retainer, but this year we have gone through one of our many purges over the years. This time we made some big space - able to give 3 book cases to our son because we had shed that much stuff. And I am happy to be able to walk into a few closets that were filled to the extreme.

    And we are not done yet.

  5. A very interesting, insightful post that definitely struck a nerve with me! I'm continually in conflict between holding onto relics of the past and letting go. I'm trying to get more in the letting go mode as I grow older since my husband and I had the horrific task of cleaning out my parents' small home (it took nearly two years) and my aunt's (took four months). We don't want to leave relatives with a mess of stuff. I'm working on giving away some of the real treasures to relatives and friends in the next few years.

  6. Karen - Glad to hear some days are better. Thanks for stopping by.
    Ms. Knitter - Lazy retainer - love it!!! It's nice to pass things off to the kids, mine just got a dresser. And you are so right, we're not done yet!
    Dr. Kathy - We too, had to clean up/pack up and then sell my mother in law's place. She was 93 when she passed away and although things were VERY old it was still a challenge for my husband to let certain things go. Perhaps this is why we now have a church bulletin from 1940. I, like you, would like to do most of this for my children. My mom's been giving us kids stuff for years. It is a treat to enjoy those special things while mom is still with us and can witness our joy. As always, thank you for your comment.

  7. Things you have mentioned indeed "give context to our lives; they give meaning."
    I've had to get rid of many in my life when we moved from house to apartment this year. I feel a bit diminished by the loss, but I'm surviving. I still have the memories.

  8. Hi .. so difficult this chucking out - 'useless' relics yes - but we were the nation of the war, or the babies of such .. and everything could have value - that was the way I was brought up: re-use.

    Things had been cleared and chucked I wish they hadn't - but I have to accept things as they are .. I would love to have more family information .. again I don't think anyone (or me!) appreciated the interest I would ultimately have.

    Certainly clear the gunk and the rubbish if pos - leave other things perhaps ... !! Cheers Hilary