30th June 2021
How to Deal With Sentimental Items? (Minimalism Q&A)
In this newsletter, we answer a couple of minimalism-related questions, submitted by viewers and readers (grouping similar/related questions together).
We have to start off by saying that we’re not experts on the subject of minimalism or decluttering — we’re no Marie Kondo. Lifestyle choices are always going to be subjective, and our responses are simply our opinions!
Today’s big question is…
How to deal with childhood/sentimental items?
We define sentimental items as items that bring up memories, but are otherwise of little or no value to a stranger. We each have about a shoe box’s worth of such items: handmade cards, photographs, trinkets, small items that we can’t bear (or are procrastinating) to discard.
A minimalist lifestyle is subjective enough as it is, but it’s even more so when we’re dealing with sentimental items. That said, here are a few questions that we think are worth considering with regard to this category of items:
Are the memories really lost if the item is gone?
One retrospective example: we probably kept our childhood trophies and medals longer than necessary. Whenever we used to go through our stuff, it wasn’t memories that the medals and trophies brought up. It was more of a sense of inconvenience, from the fact that they (the trophies, in particular) were so awkward to store and took up so much space — especially since we don’t even display them!
Sure, some of them held fun memories, but we’ve never felt like those moments would be forgotten if the associated medal or trophy was no longer in our possession.
Can the item be digitized in some way?
In many cases, simply seeing an item without actually touching it, would be enough to bring up memories and emotions. Although we still keep some physical photographs in our possession, pictures are probably a prime example of this.
Digital copies of something won’t degrade over time like physical objects do. And maybe in some instances, looking at a digital (e.g. scanned) copy of an analog photograph can be just as good as holding on to the real thing? For items like these, we try to digitize them whenever it makes sense.
Is an item really just unnecessary weight in the baggage?
Digitization has many benefits, but it also shares some of the same disadvantages of the analog world. In fact, sometimes those disadvantages could be amplified because of the convenience.
Continuing the photographs example: we can create memories through pictures so cheaply and easily these days — we’re no longer limited by how many rolls of film or picture albums we have. Just snap a photo and a copy of it is stored for a low cost of a couple of megabytes. But look through the album on a typical phone and chances are, the stuff worth keeping are buried in a pile of indistinguishable pictures of food and sunsets.
The important memories are still there, but having too much noise around them makes it harder to appreciate them. We feel it’s the same with physical objects. Is keeping too many things in the name of sentimentalism making it harder and less likely that we’ll actually revisit the sweetest memories of them all? 🤔
Once again, like we said, there’s really no right or wrong way to go about this. These questions are our attempt at a logical approach to what is essentially an emotional category of items. Sometimes, if it feels like the right time to let go of an item, then perhaps it is; and if it doesn’t feel like the right time, then maybe it isn’t.
What made us want to become minimalists?
If you’ve been following our content recently, you may have come across our answer to this question: we don’t have ONE simple explanation, but we have a collection of stories and experiences. To save money, to be more sustainable, because of limited space, or even simply, to make ourselves happy.
We’ll make more videos about it in the future, but in the meantime, don’t forget to check out the first of these stories: