Over the years, I have moved country, city and house, racking up numerous addresses between the ages of 18 and my mid thirties. I moved almost every year during that time, and it didn’t seem strange at all, and it still doesn’t, until someone requests a police certificate of character and I have to list my last 10 addresses and I realize that only takes me back to my late twenties! During these various moves, I have packed up and taken various items that one might argue fall into the categories of essentials (clothes, kitchen equipment, sheets and towel etc) and sentiment (postcards, photos, gifts). I wrote several posts on my run up to turning 40 about how desperately I wanted to declutter my life, and the numerous attempts that I made. I have been struck with another such urge to declutter, and this time I am ready to tackle my books and my sentimental items – photos and postcards etc. I have a big wicker box in the corner of my living room, for some of these sentimental items, and I decided this afternoon to dig into the box with a lovely cup of tea to start the heartbreaking task of parting with some of these items.
I went into the box expecting to find lots of lovely postcards beautifully written from loved ones over the years – all ready to be in my feelings. Instead….. I found photos taken 20+ years ago at uni on a film camera – 75% of which people aren’t even looking at the camera. I honestly don’t recognize so many of those people! I found piles of cards – some of them postcards that I had obviously bought during a trip and forgotten to send, and many of them with handwriting so illegible I don’t have a clue who sent them. I found many many many Christmas cards that simply say – To Safiya from … and that clearly came from a box of cards full of the same designs – some years I got multiple of the same card, and sometimes people sent me the same card several years in a row! What I remember as being sentimental now holds almost no meaning to me, and its kind of scary! Clearly – at the time I saved all of these items they meant something to me and I thought that would be the case forever and now all I can think about is how many times I paid for an extra suitcase to travel around with this stuff!!
Don’t get me wrong – I did find some juicy gems – letters from my sister, from friends, postcards from trips with fun facts on the back. The lesson from this: write stuff down. Record your wins, your gratitudes, the great people you meet, the places you have been. Write it down. Make notes. Keep a two minute journal. Or a longer one. Caption your photos. Send postcards. Write letters. The truth for me was simple – there was a time when these people, places and things meant enough to me to capture the moments. I thought I would remember, but as each year goes by, my brain becomes filled up with random facts – jokes my nephew tells, errands I have to run tomorrow. And if I am honest – there is still a large amount of my brain’s bandwith being taken up with lyrics to 80s rock hits.
So if I have learned one lesson today – write stuff down. It makes memories meaningful.
I send you big love from a small island!