Thursday, March 17, 2005

Nothing like moving to prove you own too much stuff

CP told me that this week and I've been thinking that over since then. Very true, although I have been determined that this time...I'm moving with the least amount of "cr*p" ever. During the packing process, I've become rather unsentimental when it comes to some things...tossing things I just can't justify any longer...or don't know why I really have them at all. I tossed all my CD jewel cases...saved the booklets and the discs and filled two trash cans with the empty cases. I've donated a ton of old books I can't really justify still owning (let's not talk about how many unread books I own...I'm going to leave the answer as 'too many'), which -may- actually mean that upon moving into the new place, I'll actually have room for all the books on the shelves. Maybe. ;)

And yet...sometimes, I can't help but go through a little nostalgia...resisting the impulse to purge some things that remind me of something. Some Star Wars toys I found last night, for example. They're not valuable...they've been heavily "played with" (that was the point!)...and they're only really useful now as sort of decorations (I suppose)...and yet...I couldn't purge them. There are plenty of other little examples. I've thrown tons of stuff away...but each time I do an inventory and "purge," there is always a percentage that remains.

It got me to thinking about nostalgia and our "cr*p." On the nostalgia scale, I'm towards the lower end. I don't get upset at the destruction of old buildings (usually). I don't save movie ticket stubs or old ballgame tickets/programs/scorecards. I don't save old birthday cards, or old love letters, or (with only one exception - the notes from a course on 20th Century music, which I continue to access for CD purchasing ideas) notes from my old college classes. True...I think I'm less nostalgic than the average person (although I know some serious packrats who never throw anything away...no matter how trivial or useless it might be), but...even I hold onto a few things.

We all have things that we move from place to place...never used or looked at...simply collecting dust in new locations. Why do we hold on to them? What keeps us from throwing these things away? Is it out of a desire to relive the past - a sort of mental time machine? A desire to hold on to a moment, a person, a time, a place...long gone and almost forgotten? Or are we just like other animals (birds, ants, etc.) who collect things just out of habit...or because they're shiny. Personally, I think it's a bit of "all of the above." I don't have many mementos of my childhood anymore, and I think that's largely because for much of it...I was a terribly unhappy and lonely kid. The few things I hold on to from that era (such as the Star Wars toys I mentioned above) are some of the few positive memories from that era I cling to...but even those are bittersweet at times. Nostalgia can be a mixed bag, certainly. Yesterday, I was talking to some friends about my childhood love of the HBO kid's series "Fraggle Rock," a Jim Henson muppetish production that aired for five years in the mid-1980s (btw...I can go on for hours about Fraggle Rock - I LOVED that show when I was a kid...watched it in reruns and first-runs religiously...probably a topic for a blog entry of it's own one of these days...). But, as I thought about the show throughout the day...it reminded me of how desperately unhappy and lonely I was at that time of my life (83-87)...and how I watched Fraggle Rock so much mostly because I really didn't have any "real" friends. My friends were the Fraggles.

Thus is the double-edged sword of nostalgia. Can make you feel good, can make you feel sad. I'm not certain what the point of this long and rambling entry is (or if it even has one). Maybe I'm just trying to kill some time while I work on things in my office. But it's an interesting topic to think on.

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