Memories vs Joy

There’s nothing like the impending end of the world to get your domestic goddess on. I have an urgent urge to get my life in order so today I have transplanted 4 plants, upgraded my toilet seat, and completed yet another massive de-clutter.  This one was different.  This time I think I’ve broken the code.  My drawers love the Konmari Method and the filing cabinet system makes me wonder how I survived without it?  Well, I know how I survived before discovering it; by shoving everything in like a cave woman and having to pull it all out to get to whatever was suffocating on the bottom unfolded and unloved.  But, just now, I’ve had an epiphany that I hope will prevent all of us from drowning in clutter from now on. 

I appreciate the spark joy method and use it regularly to curate my space.  It’s quick and simple and effective.  However, that sugary hit of satisfaction does not always last.  What may not spark joy for us today might make us giddy with it in a year.  I’ve spoken to people who have used this method and then felt regret at letting go of something that they now wish they had at hand.  Joy is a fluid thing it is not finite or fixed.

This week I have been availing myself of many objects from my 37sqm apartment.  Many found in the garbage and then sold online, some purchased myself, some inherited or gifts.  Obviously, the street finds are very easy to sell or pass on to others and the reason is simple.  There are no memories attached.  Yes, I’ve saved it from landfill but that’s as far as the emotional attachment goes.  It starts and ends with that.  I often think of myself as a junk foster carer.  I pick up the unwanted and find new homes for them.

Just now I sold 8 miniature antique bottles online for $20. They were gorgeous, small, really old and have been sitting in my cabinet for quite a while. The transaction was effortless. The lady was completely delighted with them as I met her in the driveway for the transaction. My hands heavy with little bottles were soon light with a crisp $20 note. We both walked away happy. Why was it so easy? Because for the life of me, I can’t remember when or where I acquired them. There were zero memories attached. None. Zilch. Zip. I remember having the mini 7UP and Pepsi bottles in my steamer chest of collectables as a child and have a vague memory of either the town fair or the Bonaventure Antique Fair in Montreal, but no concrete memories at all – it could be all in my head. I don’t remember how old I was, who was with me, how much they cost…absolutely nothing. They were free and loose objects in the world, not tethered to me in any way, so it was time to liberate them. It felt good. In fact, it felt great. These dirty, old mystery objects and I have been staring at each other for years behind the glass of my cabinet as perfect strangers wondering how we ended up together. Now, someone else can love them and have a memory of how they got them.

I look through the glass of my cabinet now and stories stare back at me…a gift from a high school student 15 years ago, gifts from friends, my first purchase in Shanghai…these objects not only spark joy, they spark memories of friends, adventures and events.  Now, everything in my home is tethered to me in meaningful memories.  They have stories, and we are nothing without our stories.

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