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minimalism & sentimentality

10 February 2013

oslo-copyright-www.lucentimagery.com-1
Norway, 2011

I’ve heard the assumption that aspiring minimalists are not sentimental. For me, that’s not true at all. I value people, time, experiences, food and places the most but I also have strong feelings attached to some objects. I’ve written about my Daffy Duck smoothie glass. That sentimentality rings true for many other things in our home.

In asking the questions over the past 5 years of what I really value, enjoy and use, my keepsakes have reduced down to a suitcase of treasured bits and pieces (and my wedding dress in it’s own box). My storage indicator is a suitcase per adult for things that are not used or displayed. Over time that bag will be reassessed for what still holds a dear place in my heart. I feel freer in acknowledging what I truly want in my belongings, rather than holding things purely out of fear or guilt.

Yet, getting rid of something doesn’t mean I’m not sentimental about it. I have photos of significant things that I’ve thrown out or donated that serve as wonderful memory triggers. Most of the items I didn’t find to be beautiful and useful even if I did appreciate or celebrate the way in which they came into my life. My purged academic trophies represent my hard work to overcome communication challenges to rank highly amongst an intelligent group. The sentimentality endures and the achievement will be forever within me. I have kept a couple of sporting medals – the ones that I think are beautiful and fill me with pride of more awesome achievements. There are sentimental objects in use in our home too and they bring me joy often.

Our gut instinct tells us what we really want to keep in our lives, physical and otherwise. Aspiring minimalists, in whatever definition they choose, listen to it and embark upon decluttering. It’s about finding our very own unique balance of what we treasure from the past that helped shape us but making room for calmness, space or time today and being open to new opportunities or growth in the future. It’s about recognising that one doesn’t always need to physically own an object in order to honour it. It’s never about ridding oneself of the feeling of sentimentality.

10 Responses
  1. February 10, 2013

    Beautiful photo of Norway. and thoughtful post about sentimentality….I am inspired that you have been able to made tough decisions about what is important to keep and what can be treasured with memory and photos. Lovely.

  2. February 10, 2013

    Hi Lucent. An interesting and valid point. I think parting with sentimental treasures is hard at first but does become easier. Getting this area down to a manageable size was important for me. With less sentimental objects I can store them more carefully and make sure they are more accessible. Also, you can keep memories and achievements alive even if you don’t have anything physical to represent them: photos, writing and reliving/retelling the past in conversation.

  3. February 10, 2013

    Interesting thoughts Lucent. I find myself constantly culling, especially with my children and their bits and pieces. How much can you keep…if I kept every photo, artwork, piece of clothing etc we would literally drown in it. It is much better to carefully choose special things, but this can take some discipline too!

  4. February 11, 2013

    Very good thoughts! I think we can be sentimental without having a lot of “stuff”. We’ve moved around a bit so we have got very use to living with the minimum. Not sure how that’s going to go with the new addition to our family but given that we are living on the other side of the world, i don’t think that will change for a while.

    P xo

  5. Megan permalink
    February 11, 2013

    Such an an important point and so beautifully expressed! The idea that your achievements and memories are “forever within” is key to the subject of minimalism because people and experiences are more important than things to a minimalist. Does that make a minimalist more truly sentimental? :)
    One certainly doesn’t need a physical reminder of every person or experience in one’s life – just a few special mementos that are truly treasured and as Claire said by writing, reminiscing or photographing.

  6. February 12, 2013

    I am also get attached to sentimental objects but like you I have found that the best way of reducing them is to take a photograph that will instantly been back the memories associated with it.
    Sarah x

  7. February 13, 2013

    I agree wholeheartedly! I also love what Megan says in the comments, that people and experiences are more important than things to a minimalist. I have learned not to place too much value on stuff as a whole and keep only those things that do have meaning while being useful and/or beautiful. Great post!

  8. February 14, 2013

    This is a tightrope I’m always walking.

  9. February 15, 2013

    “It’s about finding our very own unique balance of what we treasure from the past that helped shape us but making room for calmness, space or time today and being open to new opportunities or growth in the future. It’s about recognising that one doesn’t always need to physically own an object in order to honour it.”
    Well said.

  10. February 17, 2013

    Love this post. I love the way your write.

    I’m SUPER sentimental and my keepsakes currently reside in about 30 huge storage boxes. And that’s after a brutal cull. Oh dear.

    x Jasmine

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