It seems to me….
“Time and memory are true artists; they remould reality nearer to the heart’s desire.” ~ John Dewey.
All of us have items we bought twenty years ago (or in my case, much longer) squirreled away in the garage or closets but no longer used. Our wives (spouses) always ask why we refuse to get rid of whatever is the current topic of conversation. “Why not let someone have it that would really use it?” The hand-router with a bad electrical cord and all its accessory tools, the coax cable crimpers for a coax size no longer used, the portable jigsaw for which we no longer have any saw blades….
It’s easy to see the apparently useless items with which someone else illogically refuses to part. We do not part so easy with our own items which we know with absolute certainty we will need the day after they are gone. The fondue pot never used in the ten years since it was purchased, the dozen mismatched porcelain tea cups and saucers never used since we inherited them. Everyone has their own collection of items we insist on keeping though there isn’t any way to justify it.
Am I ever really going to review those undergraduate college textbooks on advanced calculus, formal logic, or quantum mechanics that I haven’t opened in over fifty years? What about the literature anthologies or world history texts? They rarely have been read in the last half century. But I did get rid of most of my graduate school texts (hmm, have to think about that…).
And there are the unused auto maintenance and repair tools when I no longer even change the car’s oil myself. I still have boxes of electrical components – resistors, capacitors, inductors – and would not be surprised to find some old 12AU7 or 6L6 radio vacuum tubes hidden away somewhere. Let’s not even mention all the clothing too well worn to give away that no longer is in style or even fits.
Items have sentimental value; it is the memories those items represent that actually are of importance to us. We are not possessions and our memories are within us rather than in “things”. In truth, many of these seemingly no longer useful items are primarily about who we are or at least how we wish to see ourselves. It is a reminder of who we once were and wish we still could be.
My old backpack unused in years that I carried over several thousand miles of wilderness or mountain backcountry trails is an old friend I once depended on through many pleasant adventurers. While I still occasionally entertain fantasies of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, in saner moments realize that though I have not changed over the intervening years, the pack has become heavier, the trails longer, the mountains steeper, the ground harder, and the area under my sleeping bag less level with many more rocks. Though it now contains items to take in an emergency evacuation, using it in that capacity is only rationalization as a duffel bag or similar container would be more functional. That pack is part of who I once was and the way I prefer to still see myself.
Neither my wife nor I could be described as hoarders. Most items no longer being used are donated to charitable organizations but an undefined amorphous category of “things” remains. To part with these items would mean relinquishing many personal delusions we prefer to retain.
No, I think I’ll hold on to them a while longer. Self-deception? Maybe. But for now I prefer to hold on to those perceptions.
That’s what I think, what about you?