Since we just went through another one of those sappy holidays taken over by the greeting card industry so we would spend more money on stuff, I thought this might be a good opportunity to talk about how to approach minimalism when there is some sentimentality involved.
Interesting side note: Anne Jarvis, the mother who invented Mothers Day and convinced Congress to make it a holiday, was so disgusted with the commercialization of the holiday she tried to get it rescinded.
What I mean by sentimentality is holding onto things that have a special meaning or place in our lives. That picture of the family, a keepsake from a loved one, that collection of NASCAR commemorative plates that is guaranteed to go up in value over time. Stuff we hold onto simply because we feel a bond to it in some way. It may evoke fond memories of bygone days or happy times. Or it may even be something actually useful and utilitarian, and you just don’t have the heart to get rid of it even though there are more better improved versions. Like some of my ex girlfriends.
Linda over at the Sandcastle posted this link about Death, Life, & The Legacy Of Clutter, and it is a good read, go take a look, I’ll wait. Back now? Okay, let’s move on. (BTW Linda, welcome home. Glad you made it back safe and sound).
Anyways, I wanted to give my take on downsizing, minimalizing, and sentimentalizing. How I am approaching it as I strive to keep things simple and minimal.
Right now, at this time and place, I have nothing in my possession, not counting the cats, that has any sentimental value to me at all. No pictures, no souvenirs, nothing. Everything I own has a use, gets used, and if it gets worn out or lost, can be replaced. Without fuss, without tears, and only a few dollars out of my pocket. This was not by accident. I didn’t lose picture albums in a fire nor did anyone steal my collection of Harley Beer cans. As I downsized more and more, the sentimental value of things became less and less. It may seem a bit cold hearted, but in my particular case, things are somewhat unique.
I am pretty much alone in the world. No brothers or sisters, no wives, no kids, and the few relatives who still speak to me or even know where I live are all over 80. I have friends…stop laughing, I really do…or at least people who tolerate me, but for all intent and purposes, I live alone. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. But that’s a whole ‘nother story unto itself, for another time and place. The point is, I can pretty much go anywhere I want and do pretty much anything I want, as long as the cats can come along, without anything holding me back. No property, the boat can be sold easily, no job, the app business is mobile, a key ingredient, and no ties to anyone. It’s the way I want things and I am quite happy to be alone at this stage in life. So, as I was working towards this lifestyle, I began to think about some things.
If and when I should chose to die, you never know, what would I leave behind and what would happen to it. I have no heirs, and no doubt some piece of shit lawyer will try to find a way to acquire my vast fortune. Boy, will that idiot be in for a big disappointment. So why bother to keep things that have had any sentimental value? Who so ever gets my immense wealth and possessions would take a look at any pictures I had of parents, grand parents, or other family, and toss them in the garbage. They would have no idea who these people were nor what they did in life. Same with any pins, patches, or other bits of junk I acquired over the years in my travels and adventures. Meaningless to who ever is picking through my bones. The only thing they will be rooting around for is anything that has monetary value. The rest will be junk and tossed away forever. So, I saved them the work by getting rid of the stuff now. As for the money, only the cats know where the Manatee Fritter treasure be buried matey, and they ain’t talkin’.
So, I know what you are thinking…Capt. Fritter is just a cold, heartless, bitter old man destined to die alone in a room that reeks of cat pee. Well, yeah, but so what. The thing is, while all those things that have memories tied to them may seem like they should have some real value, for the most part, they don’t. I had an old paring knife that belonged to my grand mother. The blade was worn down to nothing more than a stub. I used to look at it and imagined her standing in her kitchen peeling taters, and whipping up another great meal. To her, that paring knife was probably bought at the five and dime, always needed sharpening, and something that she never gave a second thought too. So why keep it?
Pictures, photos, and old movies. We had boxes of them. The old man loved to buy the latest cameras and take pictures of everyone. Got damn irritating about it in fact. The pictures? Gone. I’m the only one left who knows any history about them. I can guarantee you that nobody else on the planet neither knows nor cares who those people in those pictures were nor what they were doing at the time. Don’t believe me? Next time you have some random friend over break out the family albums and see how fast you can bore said friend to tears. That picture of your sweet old aunt who used to bake cookies for you every year is just another old woman to every one else.
But I still have all those memories, stored right up there in my memory thingie, whatever it’s called. I remember what my grandparents looked like, how they sounded. I remember going to their house, sitting on the back porch and listening to baseball games on the radio. I remember how family meals tasted so damn good. I remember all the adventures and misadventures I had from childhood all the way up to this past weekend. Scuba diving off Bimini, riding my Harley across the country for three weeks. I don’t need things to remind me of those memories. I was there, I did those things. Sometimes, I may write those memories down, here on the Fritter or maybe someplace else. I’ll share some of those memories with people if the conversation turns that way. When I go visit family later this month, we’ll surely talk about such things, but I don’t need things to remind me of things.
I’m sure everyone else has a different outlook on such nonsense. Some of you may have a special attachment to something and simply refuse to give it up. That’s ok. Whatever fits your version of downsizing is best for you. This is what is best for me.
Had I got married at some point, had I had kids, had I stayed in that cursed little house in Orlando, I would probably still have most of those keepsakes. In fact, as time goes on, I would have accumulated more. But no more. I have the memories, I have the life experiences, I just don’t have the physical junk that came with them all. And I don’t miss it. And when I am gone, those memories will be gone too. The world will be neither better nor worse for the loss. In the meantime, I can remember it all, whenever I want, wherever I go.
I can just see the look on that greedy lawyer’s face when it turns out all I left to the world was a backpack with some ratty clothes and a computer with a password that nobody can crack. Then only to find out the bank account is empty, and there is some blog called, Manatee Fritters. But no money.