a change in time

musings on behavioural change – the small stuff and the big stuff.

the dilemma with special things


For most of my life I have gained great pleasure from objects that hold special meaning for me. Ranging from things as everyday as my first recipe book or an essay from high school, to family heirlooms like a Bible left to me by my grandmother and a vase that once belonged to my mother’s sister, who died seventy years ago.


The longer we live the more possessions we acquire. Many of these items hold special memories. Eventually there is nowhere left to store these precious items. (I still haven’t been able to sort through boxes of my parents’ possessions, which have been in our shed for nine years!)


Way back in March, around the time of our son Louis’ birthday, we came across a few items we had kept for him from the early years. You know the kinds of things I’m talking about, his first cereal bowl and mug, a football trophy, a pencil case from primary school. I have always assumed that our sons would want these memories from their childhood.


Around the same time I read an article entitled Stuff it: Millennials nix their parent’s treasures. As I read through the article, I felt like the journalist was addressing me personally. Here’s a taste of what had me squirming in my seat:

“As baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, start cleaning out attics and basements, many are discovering that millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are not so interested in the lifestyle trappings or nostalgic memorabilia they were so lovingly raised with.”

How did that happen! Once I got over my reaction, which ran something along the lines of, ‘how will memories be passed on if the items that hold them are not valued’, it occurred to me that our need or desire to surround ourselves with keepsakes can quickly become ‘unsustainable’. As I look around our house I am aware of stories attached to every item. It doesn’t take long before I feel transported to another time, another place. I can relate to the hoarder reality TV shows where a person sees value in everything they have collected and can’t bare to let go of anything.

Another quote from the article:

They are living their lives digitally through Instagram and Facebook and YouTube, and that’s how they are capturing their moments. Their whole life is on a computer; they don’t need a shoebox full of greeting cards.

Okay, so I have quite a few shoeboxes full of greeting cards, dating back thirty or so years.


Earlier in the year I read an article about Marie Kondo, who has written a book that could possibly solve all of my problems. I told my sister, Jann, about the book. She actually bought it and read it and has since offered me some advice on how to deal with all of those treasured cards. From Jann, “the Japanese book on tidying your home and life recommends getting rid of things like old cards that people have given you. She says that they have served their purpose once they have been given.

I think I will have to take it slowly. Meanwhile I will ponder why the thought of letting go of things from the past feels so difficult. I envy the next generation if they really don’t feel so attached to their possessions. I’m working on not being so attached. I bet you’re thinking, she’s going to have to let go of them sooner or later, and I agree. Let’s see if I can beat the reaper.

Author: rhinophile

I’m interested in how we live and how we die. I like to try things on and see if they work for me. I find the human experience a fascinating one. No matter how much we hear about there being evil in the world, I also know there is goodness, and many people who are dedicated to caring for everyone and everything.

4 thoughts on “the dilemma with special things

  1. An article very close to my heart. Your photos bring back many life events for me as well. Even having read Marie Kondo’s book I still have a house full of items that bring back special memories, including lots of cards I’ve been given. I have not yet been through the exercises Marie recommends for sorting through your possessions. Her book makes you see them in a different light though. I especially liked her advice to treat your clothes and other items used day to day with respect as they have served their purpose well. This may be connected to the Japanese belief of seeing spirits even in inanimate objects.

  2. I also like the idea of treating our possessions with respect and your theory that this may be linked to the Japanese belief of seeing spirits in inanimate objects.

  3. I hadn’t read this, came across it trying to set up an avatar account, frigging brilliant, how do we of the Williams family hoarders survive this new disease that the millennials have. a suggestion your next blog could be to introduce your self to the Darebin community and your fellow sustainables. It would make an interesting read. P.S. whats the name of the book?

    • We have inherited quite a few traits haven’t we Rod, some more empowering than others! Thanks for the idea for the new blog. 😊 P.S. the name of the book is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

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