Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A life in boxes

I am surrounded by stuff.

Packing is an activity that inevitably leads to a certain amount of introspection; it's like a ritual, sifting through the lives once led in preparation for the life to come. Those books, CDs, pieces of random paper that bring to mind times you'd half-forgotten, smiles and rueful wonderings about what might have been, if only. But there's no if only in life, only what was, is and shall be.

So the difficult decision becomes, what stays and what goes? There are of course things that retain their immediate usefulness or potency, and those that can be happily discarded (CDs that will never again be played, books that will never be re-read). But there's also a slew of things that fall between; things that you can't entirely justify keeping on any practical level, but bring warm feelings of nostalgia. How do you decide about these?

I try to be reasonably callous about it; I believe in looking forward, not becoming mired in things past. But at the same time, that past is what made me, and I need to keep something to remind me of where I've been. Judging the line between these is a difficult one.

Mostly, though, at the moment I feel overwhelmed. When you've been in the same place for over seven years, you don't notice the accumulation of things, and it's only when you come to put it in boxes that you realise how much you are defined, and weighed down, by possessions.

There's a piece of me that wants to stand up, walk out and leave all the things. That knows I only need what I carry within me, really, and that everything else is detritus. But I can't let go of it all. I'm possessed by objects, and it's a worrying feeling. But we cannot entirely escape the detritus we have produced, and must accept responsibility for it.

3 comments:

Cheerful One said...

But there's also a slew of things that fall between; things that you can't entirely justify keeping on any practical level, but bring warm feelings of nostalgia. How do you decide about these?

You don't: you stuff them in boxes, and then into a cupboard (or loft) and then every now and again you pluck up the courage to sort through it all and end up standing frozen in front of it all for 15 minutes.

Then you shut the cupboard door again.

Cheerful One said...

Oh, and my main rule for packing/sorting and tidying is never, ever look at the photographs.

The photographs are fatal.

petemaskreplica said...

This is the beauty of technology! My photos are all on computer these days - nothing to stare at :)