Meaningful Things

Ihigh-school-crap-cropped-resized hope that by the time I’m carted off to the nursing home or when I take my last breath and keel over, I will have culled my possessions down to a small, curated collection of only meaningful things. Might happen. Might not. But I am on my way.

Slowly I have been ridding myself of things that no longer mean much to me. Item by item, I decide what stays — and what goes.

In the past year I have said good-bye to 40-year-old high school crap, including 3 yearbooks (I kept senior year.), homecoming buttons, my religion class collage of the biblical story of Ruth, and my physics term paper on magnetohydrodynamics. (I once knew what that was.) I’ve thrown away college essays, as well as my graduate school commencement program (since I didn’t attend the ceremony, anyway). I’ve ditched diaries and journals, news clippings, duplicate photographs, and long-saved greeting cards. These items were important to me once, but their significance faded long ago. That I’ve kept them this long is as much from inertia as nostalgia.

As I analyze my remaining ephemera (and there’s a lot of it), I wonder what compelled me to keep this stuff in the first place, and as I handle each item, what obliges me to keep it now. I don’t look at any of it very often. Does it comfort me somehow just knowing it’s there, up in the attic bedroom stashed away in an old footlocker and my mother’s suitcase? Or is it simply easier to close the trunk and shut the case than confront these physical remnants of my past? The answer, I suspect, is a bit of both.

But I am committed to removing the baggage from my luggage, as I search for the meaning in my things.

Laura Sternweis


4 thoughts on “Meaningful Things

  1. Laura: when we moved from our home on Eagle Rd. (after 40+ years)I found a way to divest my “baggage” I took pictures of those important things….I wrote about each thing and then (after I had my emotions under control ) I put them all in a special photo album….so I can look at them when I want to….I can relive the moments (it is what God gave us a memory for) and I no longer have to dread what my children will have to do when I am no longer here!!!


  2. […] The author’s concept is that each of us should sort through and clean out his or her own stuff rather than leave the task for some poor sap to deal with after we’ve left the planet. It’s an idea that’s quite in line with what I’m already doing. Though I hope I’m a long way from death, I decided a while back that I didn’t want to live with as much stuff as I had accumulated. I have been sorting through my memorabilia and collections with purpose: getting rid of the junk and keeping only the meaningful things. […]


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