Minimalism: The Sentimental Items, Part II

What you are about to read is part II of a larger blog post. If you haven’t already read part I, you should check the post out here.

There seems to be another category lurking in my trunk—items that aren’t useful on a daily basis, but I know I will keep them for many years despite the fact. To be specific, I am referencing the publications kept in this trunk. I just uncovered the stack of magazines and newspapers my writing has been published in previously. Though they do take up space, and I don’t reference them but every few years when I am putting together a history of my work, I won’t be tossing them. This is writing that goes back before the massive shift to the digital age, and I don’t have another way to access it.


I do not want to put off the air that there are no options, even in this instance. I believe we often have many options. Some options we can come up with on our own, if we put just a little effort into creative, critical thinking. Other options we discover speaking with friends. I can think of two options on my own for this stack of publications. I can scan the collection for reference and discard the paper copies (should I need a physical reminder of the memory, I can always get a nice shadow box or frame for the publications I am most proud to remember). I can create a professional portfolio that I still store away, but can access with ease in the future, eliminating the need to dig through stacks of paper and find particular dates. It is important to remember that when we believe there aren’t any options, there is a 99% chance we are wrong. We just need to think a little harder or ask for a little help.

I am finding some items in this trunk that seem to be split between categories, too. For instance, a long while ago, I started collecting autographed books. This started innocent enough, as collections tend to, when I went to a writing event where I met some of the authors, spoke to them, and had them sign the books I purchased. However, then I let the collection spiral—I started collecting autographed books from people I had never met or read. So while I will keep some of these books (including Rick Moody’s Demonology: Stories, Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian, Sarah Kay’s B, Elissa Schappell’s Use Me, Richard Ford’s A Piece of My Heart, and Dorianne Laux’s What We Carry), I am letting go of others. I will trade them on Paperback Swap, and hopefully a signed copy will bring a smile to someone else’s face. The books I am keeping will make their way to the shelves around my house, prepared to be used, abused and enjoyed again rather than hiding away in sentimental lockdown.


Now, minimalism means something different to me than it means to other people. I almost started this paragraph by saying “I’m not perfect” but the truth is that I’m just different. Some people say minimalism is getting rid of every single item that is not useful, and for those people, if that is what is important to them, that is a perfect kind of minimalism. I just don’t believe that, or I am just not ready to let go yet. I am keeping some items that do not have any current “usefulness,” but mean a lot to me and I couldn’t imagine letting go. For instance, my childhood bible, the Disney hat I got as a kid with my name stitched on the back, a musical doll my dad bought for me when he was stationed overseas, several special books from my mom, and a crocheted cat that I will integrate into my current home decor. Deciding what minimalism means for you personally is half the battle to achieve a simple life. Minimalism for you may not include that crocheted cat. Minimalism for you may mean a home with walls barren of decoration or a specific number of items in your house that you do not go above. Everyone is different. For me, at this moment right now, minimalism includes bringing the crocheted cat out of the trunk and hanging it on the wall in my living room. That’s okay.

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Thanks for reading up to this point. Due to the length of this post, check in for part III, which is the final part, on May 17, 2015.

3 thoughts on “Minimalism: The Sentimental Items, Part II

Add yours

  1. Nik, I am enjoying this blog about sentimental items! When my Mom passed away last year, my cousins and I were left with a large house, basement, and attic holding 50 years of stuff. We laughed, we cried, and were amazed by some of the vintage things we found in the cupboards. In the end we all took items that were a remembrance of the time period and/or of my Mom. During this last year, I have often thought that, perhaps, I should have taken more things or even kept the house. Then I realize that the items I kept are the ones that spoke to me the most of my Mom, my Dad and growing up there. And that is enough.
    Looking forward to part 3!


    1. You make a good point, Paula. It sounds like you did the right thing, and even though you had reservations about it afterwards, you can recognize the value in holding onto those few items that spoke to you. I went back to the essay archives of the Minimalists because I knew they had discussed this before. Joshua Fields Millburn discusses going through his Mom’s belongings after she died here: . You might enjoy that essay, too.


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