The Elusiveness of Memories

I got an email question that I feel will be helpful to share with you:

"I have a lot of wonderful memories and I hate to part with my things,especially my books. I have hundreds of books and they are all like friends to me. However, my husband says they are ruining our house and eating up potentially useful space. How can I organize my books?"

It seems the clutter situation is her love of her books and her husband's dislike of the books. She and her husband can sit down and talk about the situation. They share their home, so both of their feelings matter. Just because someone dislikes another person's things doesn't mean they can decide for them.

She can also decide to take an honest look at her books. She could pick up one at a time and ask, "Do I still enjoy this book, will I reread it, or can I let it go?" It helps to look at one item at a time and make a decision. If she looks at all of her books, it can be emotionally overwhelming because she feels they are all her friends. But individually she might have another perspective.

Her relationship with her husband is a thing too, as much as the books. She can look and see how the presence of the books affects her relationship with her husband. Does she like the effect or not? Sometimes we do things in one area of our life to bring attention to another area of our life. We may not be very conscious of it, but sometimes its easier than direct communication. By taking a kind approach to looking at her books, she might get a better understanding of her feelings about her relationship with your husband.

Something else to know is by letting go of something, we won't lose our memories. We don't have control over our memories. We may think by keeping something that it will trigger our memories. But what happens is we keep some thing, and pretty soon it fades into the background with all our other things. We get used to the thing being there and it no longer stands out. Or it goes into a box, and because we probably won't look in there, it's forgotten. Plus our memories about things are not static. An object may one day remind us of the love we feel for someone. Another day it may remind us of a time they pissed us off.

I recently went through my songs which I keep on itunes on my computer. I came upon my Aerosmith collection. That fact that I said, "collection" makes it suspect. I felt an instant need to protect them. It was an odd feeling. There was a part of me that went, "No, not Aerosmith!" I have so many great memory movies in my mind about this band. I felt like I would be losing that joy. But the thing is, I don't listen to Aerosmith anymore. When they came up on random play on my computer, I'd get irritated and fast forward to the next song. So I deleted the Aerosmith songs from my computer. What a relief!

We have this feeling to hang onto the memory because it's a way of trying to save and savor a good feeling we experienced in our life. For me it was a few isolated "golden moments" seeing Aerosmith in concert in high school. But the feeling is elusive. It can't be trapped or controlled. It comes to our awareness out of the blue and lasts for a few seconds. It's a very powerful few seconds. That's what makes us want to maintain the feeling.

Unless something is still part of our lives, I recommend letting it go because it allows new experiences to come in that can be equally or even more compelling. As long as we're still alive, there will be new treasures to be experienced.

This clutter busting process is all fine tune adjusting. We're seeing what makes us feel good in our life now, what we still enjoy, what serves us, and what doesn't. We may be surprised at what actually matters to us now. It's worth the look.