So the time has come and you have made your mind up to declutter your house and discard a mound of stuff and unnecessary old gear. You have been postponing the major spring clean that you never find a spare moment to come round to do it. You have made a list about what stays and what goes. You are determined not to spare the garage, the basement or the attic and more so, not to add more clutter to those junk refuges that have homed rusty bicycles, old cabinets and knackered sports paraphernalia for years.
You have probably scheduled what is going in the skip, you have hired, or what is being taken away by the local waste removalists. You have selected what clothes to sell at the flea market and what apparel to end up in the nearby thrift store.
We have all done this and it sounds like a great plan. However, there are several things that I would not touch, no matter what.
No, this not another article about ideas on how to recycle, reuse and repurpose old items… We have all seen hundreds of examples for how unused and tattered objects are brought to life again. We all know that the good old tires can transform into round flower beds, exotic ottomans or garden swings for the kids. We have seen crooked forks that have been turned into coat hangers, old ladders, re-employed as book shelves and of course, that grand piano, silenced forever by water bubbling, as it is now a fountain.
Nor is this post about tips on sorting out childhood memorabilia or how to let go of treasured keepsakes. You have made the decision to part with your bulky school trophies, the old grammar tests from primary school and the beach stone collection that you have kept for years. But you are going to keep onto your colourful scrapbook and that is all fine. Everyone is different and there will always be certain items that are a no-go area, when it comes to discarding them, because they are valuable to us.
Well, here is my miscellaneous list of 5 things that I would not throw away:
1. Old love letters
We have all heard the quote that Kurt Vonnegut never said: “Keep your old love letters and throw your old bank statements away”. Well, for me, a romantic soul, that is a must. The addresser of those letters is, maybe, no longer part of your life, but hold onto your letters. Even if you think that they have no sentimental value, you will revisit them one day in your old age only to discover that they are the ultimate reminder of your youth - a testimony to a fulfilled life and a smooth bridge to a transcendental future. (For that reason, we do not keep newspaper obituary clippings).
2. Vinyl records
I can live with losing floppy discs or “perishable” cassette tapes, and I will happily find a new purpose for my numerous short-lived and scratched CDs. A fact of life is that technological media inventions outrun our efforts to keep up with the process of learning how to use them and by the time we manage to do so, the devices that they are designed for become outdated and useless. Moreover, information storage is no longer executed through the type of material medium of the past. We now rely on digital clouds to store our data, despite the numerous concerns with regards to security. Still, under no circumstances will I recycle my vinyl records - as antique as they are now, their value will only go up with time. Their romantic feel of realness, their ability to make me hear the specific sound of music, even without a gramophone, is something that stops me from parting with them.
3. A pair of jeans that does not fit
Dieting, weight watching and exercise are activities that all ladies are so familiar with. We have all been through making one of the most common New Year’s resolution. That is to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle. Whenever I needed to shed a few kilos, I just got out the pair of old jeans, I used to wear during my High School years, and I did what I had to do to make them fit again. This works for me.
4. My favourite stuffed toy
Yes, that is for sentimental reasons and because it has become a kind of family tradition. My mum kept my beloved one eyed scruffy plush squirrel, in the same way as her mother held onto my mother’s grey bunny rabbit and I’ll be definitely keeping my son’s or daughter’s fluffy blue bear and pink toy kitty one day. It may be irrational to treasure one toy amongst many, which have been or would be taken to my local thrift store in Sydney or have already ended up in the bin. Nevertheless, I am keeping the tradition. My lucky squirrel goes almost everywhere with me.
They look nice in the living room, some would say, but they take space. Many folks, avid readers or not, see books for their decorative side. A great looking bookshelf in the living room with the right number of books has become a design feature for many homes, rather than being the recreational necessity from the past. And why not? Everyone has got their e-book reader at hand. Some “read” audio books on their way to work. And how many of us prefer to just “watch the film”. The last is very true and valid for the younger generation. Most kids and teenagers, nowadays, may never actually buy a book in their life. Like the vinyl records, books are a "no touch" area for me... The love for books has been nurtured in my family from generation to generation. They are sacred and they stay.
I often wonder what other people would put on their “Not to Throw Away” List!