Sunday, March 25, 2007


I have taken a hard look at my home in recent weeks, days, really looking at all of the things that fill it.

I have done this because I have been doing some dejunking, attempting to organize, and discard the attempt to rid myself of the filler, the stuff, the dust collectors, the things that get picked up, dusted, dusted under, and replaced back in their designated spots.

The things that somehow no longer have meaning to me. They are just there. Most of the time I do not even see them anymore. Junk. I look at it all now, and wonder........did it ever.......have meaning......why did we purchase it, were many of these things that fill my home supposed to add to it? Make it more aesthetically pleasing? Some do, some don't.

With the thought of making a move soon, of packing up the things I will need in a new home, I have eyed everything with an eye for utility, necessity.

These things we accumulate. Most are not necessities in filling our everyday needs. Granted some well chosen objects add beauty to our lives, which is also a necessity in my mind, but there does come a time when they just become filler.

At first glance, when I looked around the main rooms of our home, I noticed only a few things that were chosen by me, because I found them pleasing, because they resonated. Instead they are there because they are an addition to the room, they make it more pleasing to the eye, or add to the ambiance of the room. But, there is truly not much in this house that is me.

Again, I thought, filler, stuff, clutter.

Then, I took a second look, trying to imagine the rooms without those items that are there because I put them there, and I realized something. The rooms would look rather empty. The bookshelves would stand empty.......all the books belong to me. The candid shots of my children would be gone, as I am the one who prefers a candid shot over a posed studio photograph. Even with all of the furniture that would stay, even with the pieces of lace, of Victoriana, that I added to the living room to enhance the four framed needleworks my Grandmother-in-law created, with all of that being left behind, the room would feel like something important, something major was missing. Again, I asked myself why, why, aside from the lack of books, and a few odd and ends would it feel empty to me?

Because, the small things, that give a room a home-like feeling to me, would be gone, or at least the room would be vastly changed. I wondered, in this change, would my children still feel at home when they walked into that particular room? I know it takes very little to remove a person's presence, remove those few items that are of their personality, and the home is changed. I have seen it time and time again after the death of a loved one, as the years pass, more and more traces of them disappear, until one day you realize, there is nothing there anymore. There is nothing there that spoke of them having been a part of that home. Granted I have been in a few homes, where nothing was changed, or few things were, but when thinking on it, those homes are rare. It is the personalities of the people who live there that make a home, not the filler, and for many years, to my credit I must admit, it was the warmth of my personality that made this house a home, and the things of me that will be missing, reflect my personality. But, I also know that eventually the rooms will be filled with other things, more things, things that reflect the personality of the sole occupant, and funnily enough, I am OK with that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

After I stopped examining the rooms themselves, I then started going through closets, shelves, and storage chests. Again, wondering. Wondering, why did I keep so much of the past. Pictures, so many photographs, 30 years of photographs, in addition to a large manila envelope full of memorabilia from my own childhood. And then in special bags under my bed, memorabilia of my children's childhoods, dating from even before they were born, since I kept pregnancy journals. I suppose in my need to hold onto memories, I kept too much. I have weeded through them over the years, each time throwing a few things out, but always, always not really getting rid of much, and sliding the bags once more under my king size bed. Also under that bed is my wedding dress, still sealed tightly in it's protective box. At least I have always known why that is still there, my daughter reminds me every few months that she wants to try it on, needs to see if she may someday wish to wear it. It was a shared dress, my sister wore it also, so there is also a niece who has that same desire.

As I went through all of this memorabilia, as I held each item in my hand, I asked myself just two questions. Why did I keep it? And is there a reason to still hold onto it? There were many items that ended up in the junk bag, but also many others that I placed back on the shelf, or chest, or bag, because the answer to the second question came to children.........they are one of the big reasons why I kept/keep the things I do. There are times, when I will arrive home from work, and find photo albums, photo boxes, drawings, small handmade books, and even my own childhood memories spread out on the floor, with my daughter, and/or son lying there, sifting through it all. They ask questions, questions of the past, questions about the people in the photographs, or the circumstances surrounding a particular item. They want the stories, they want to know the stories of those of us who people their world, and these small seemingly insignificant items, help recreate the stories, help bring details back into focus for the teller of the tale.

So, with a sigh, I kept much more than I had planned on, I pondered how it will all be separated, what will be left behind, what will be taken with me. Those things that tell the stories for my children, and if I am very lucky, for their children, I will do my best to make sure they are saved.

But those other things, they are just things, I don't need them in my life to be content, to be happy. They are just filler, and easily replaced. Memories, people, they are not.


wreckless said...

Great post! I am always trying to do the same as you and I fight the urge not to throw away. I do have stuff that has no real purpose other than I like it and so I have some cleaning to do. It makes me feel good to know that other people go about things the way that I do.

LePhare said...

It's even worse when you're doing it for someone else. A life time of collecting, stacked into a few boxes, most of it only suitable for a Charity shop.

It's made me think very seriously about never getting attached to 'things', because who ever comes after me will have no thought about the meaning behind what they find, only the worth.

Another thought provoking post Sunny.

X. Dell said...

I must be the world's worst pack rat. I can throw things out, but only under silent protest, with full knowledge that it really needs to be done. I guess, deep down, I've never had that much materially, and the old adage "Waste not, want not" rings loudly in my ears.

Wedding dresses, photos, those aren't easily replace (although you can scan the photos as JPEG or GIF files). But when you think about it, most of everyone's stuff is "filler."

BTW, your daughter's reaction to Paris was very similar to my reaction to NY. Go figure.

Fiona said...

I've been reduced to my worldly goods fitting into a suitcase, a couple of times in my life.

I've also been a real nester and had beautiful homes.

Over the past few years, well six to be precise, I've gone from handing over my home to my sister, and leaving with one suitcase, to accumulating a few things again. But I don't feel rooted, I haven't over all these years.

It's as though my soul is in transition and I've yet to find my next home. Well, I believe I have found it, or at least the person I long to be 'home' with. Until that can happen, I'll live my relatively frugally-furnished life :)

It's very freeing actually Sunny, to live this way.

I love what Ian said : "who ever comes after me will have no thought about the meaning behind what they find, only the worth." So absolutely true!