Minimalism: The Sentimental Items, Part III

What you are about to read is part III of a larger blog post. If you haven’t already read part I or II, you should start at the beginning by clicking here.

In this trunk, I’ve found a huge box of something I think we all keep stowed away—printed photographs. This is a monster of a project on its own, but I will tell you my plans for reducing the photographs. I am going to sort them into categories first: absolutely unable to let go, don’t mind tossing as long as I scan them first, and don’t mind tossing at all. Once I have those three piles, I will sort through the “absolutely unable to let go” pile, and figure out which of them are special enough to be framed and displayed on the walls around my home. The others can stay in the trunk until my next clean out, and maybe I will be ready to do some more letting go by then.


Similar to photographs, I’ve found a lot of letters in this trunk. Many of them are from my dad when I was a young kid and he was away overseas. It was tough having a Navy dad, mostly when he was away, and I am not sure I could just scan these and toss these letters. I am going to have to hold onto them and see how I feel the next time I open my trunk. I am trashing old notes from high school, and letters from friends I don’t keep in touch with anymore. Some of the letters hold no sentimental value at all. I am just holding on tight. Letters and photographs are strange creatures. As a snapshot of a memory, I could see why we hold onto them so tight. What if our memories fail and we’ve thrown away a picture that can help? What fear drives us to protect these memories so viciously? If we did forget, what would happen to our lives? Having forgotten, would it be possible for losing the memory to have a negative impact on our lives? Just asking critical questions of your possessions gives you an edge of power over them. That’s when they are most dangerous, after all—when they have power over you.

As I end this project and begin toting items to their appropriate new homes, or in some cases, packing them up to donate or tossing them into the trash can, I find myself a little disappointed. The trunk is still half full. Or, I suppose in this case, the positive way to look at the situation would be to look at the trunk as half empty.

IMG_1144               IMG_1145

Here is what I did accomplish. I did make a lot of strides. I am not just hiding books away, but bringing them out where I can enjoy them. I have sorted the photographs and will begin the scanning project soon. I trashed about 1/3 of my photographs. The other 2/3 is a mix of photographs I will keep forever and some I will scan, then let go of the physical copy. The trunk was overflowing when I began, so to have half a trunk free is quite an accomplishment. It was a little embarrassing some of what I’ve been holding onto, but I feel a sense of freedom as I let go of those childhood items and move on. There were some things I need to keep besides knowing they are not useful, but I accept that, and I will continue to think critically about how I can eliminate those items as well. I know I am disappointed, but at the same time, there is a lot to celebrate. Like I said before, minimalism is different for everyone, and I am still finding my way to my own minimalist lifestyle.

One thought on “Minimalism: The Sentimental Items, Part III

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  1. Great finale to your 3 part blog Nik! I agree that scanning written letters is harder than scanning photos. I have some things that my parents wrote, and they seem very real to me since It is the actual stationary they wrote on and the actual ink. With photographs, when you scan them, you will still see what the photographer saw looking thru the lens. My parents took a bunch of 8mm film when I was very small. I found them many years later and sent them away to be put on dvd. If I hadn’t done this, all of them would have been lost eventually due to the film breaking down. Now I can pop the dvd in whenever I want to see the film again. It is priceless. But I keep written things. It feels more personal. For me, I still feel a connection to some items from my past. If that disappears, or when I feel ready, I will let those items go.
    Thanks for such thought provoking writing!


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