Paring Down, and the Power of Sentimentality
Even though the first stage in our "big move" is still some months away, I've already begun the process of "paring down". We all know how a deadline can creep up on us. It always comes quicker than expected. :-)
I've been doing a lot of painstaking work of late. The kind that is very important, but takes many hours before it appears that anything was accomplished. I'm really into family history / genealogy, and have been going through all of my physical files. I'm transferring and digitizing everything not already done so to my family tree program and the cloud.
Up to this point, I've had no trouble trashing or recycling my paper files. That is, until today.
I just couldn't throw it away. Literally. I was physically unable.
My grandparents on my father's side spent a lot of their "golden years" traveling. And they sent us things from just about every stop. A letter. A post card. A photo. A brochure for something they thought we might like.
Though I can't say I kept everything, at some point, way back in 1998, I thought to myself: "Why am I not keeping this stuff?" So I started. Now I have a good 4+ years worth of letters and such from Grandpa and Grandma. It's much like a travel diary. Before email became the norm, and before Grandpa started creating slide shows on CDs to send. (Yes, I have them, too!)
Reading through these letters today, I (the not-so-sentimental type) thought I could simply transcribe the "important" parts into my family tree program. I was so wrong about that. So. Wrong. In the midst of all the travel news, there are snippets like this one from a 4th of July many moons ago:
Nostalgia has caught up with us; remember one time in Cape Girardeau at the park when you were so scared when the fire works started? We do! Remember at our house on the back deck when the sparklers were so scary? We do! The next day we found burn spots on the deck where all the sparks fell; no wonder you were scared, we should have been scared too.
Even though I grew up and got over my fear of loud noises (almost!) and sparklers, how can I possibly throw that away?
Grandpa is, thankfully, still with us. But Grandma passed away this past January, and I miss her terribly. Reading about their goings on brought her to life again for me for a brief, fleeting, moment. How can I throw that away?
The answer is, I can't.
Paring down, minimizing, simplifying -- these are words that describe an aspect of the life I'm working hard to create for myself. A life that I know will be enriching and purposeful. And today I learned not to underestimate the power of sentimentality.
Memories that you can hold in your hand are important. And worth keeping.