For everything in life, there might indeed be a season. When it comes to the normal and quite predictable shift in relative values or availability, of course, I’m as skilled as the next person in forgetting to renew, rearrange, or simply release that which is no longer fulfilling. It might be an object of utility or beauty I’ve treasured and utilized until it was worn or a new and better one supplanted it. It could be a handed-down family treasure whose receipt over the years went from being an honor to onerous. It is even, occasionally, a relationship with a person that was exactly the right thing at the right time but has either shifted as our personalities and needs grew apart or has been taken from me by death or distance. The question, after any of these, becomes how and when I am able to distance my own self from them without fear of losing what was wonderful in having had them.
I worried about this each time I moved from one home to another, despite knowing it was impractical to take every single thing I owned with me to my next locale every single time, and with no surety about what would fit the new place or how I lived in it. When my husbandly person and I decided to downsize some years ago from a house to an apartment and simplify a little by getting rid of lots of what was essentially unused stuff, even though we’d both collected and enjoyed much of it happily over the years, this question arose yet again. I’ve not once regretted the off-loading of so much, even many family heirlooms, in that process. As we sorted and packed it off to new lives/homes, I decided to photograph not only the house and garden as they were but also all of the best-loved Things, thinking that if I could look at the photos when I got wistful and nostalgic later I would be comforted by the stroll down memory lane.
In the end, I almost never even looked at the photos afterward; just knowing that I could was enough, and made it quite easy, really. The very process of ‘documenting’ the stuff helped me remember it and my feelings about it even better than having it still in hand. In practice, I found that much of what I do keep around is easily forgotten simply because it’s not in constant use, so why have it at all? Somebody in need of such a thing will love it all the better, and I’ll feel more contented that the right person and the right object came together and I’m relieved of caring for something I too rarely appreciate. Out of sight, out of mind, and better out of sight in someone else’s appreciative hands than in the back of some cobwebbed cupboard.