[Downsizing Zeal] Mementos and Souvenirs

Why do we need objects to tell us stories? Can’t we tell our own stories? Do the objects carry a certain external storage for certain events? When are objects imbued with such honors? Upon significant achievement, heroic sacrifice, or humble ascertainments of quaint aspects of reality first encountered through interacting with the object in question? If it’s the third abstractly-worded answer, here’s a story about a bathtub part and an overall pleasant customer service experience.

This broken part inconvenienced me.

It, along with an under-heated water heater, did not welcome me into my apartment-mansion with open arms, rather, their chilly demeanor signaled a sort of clutter-albatross that hung from my neck. Without former creature comforts, I adapted. Sure, people advocate for cold showers/baths, but I haven’t been inspired to try them.

With the clutter clear, I put in a work order.

The tub and heater were two, along with a few other minor things, all of which the apartment complex staff tended to quickly, in part because: “It’s the slow time of the month. Everyone logs in to pay their bills then puts in work orders.[1]” Good conversation and good work. Case closed.

No additional need for mementos or souvenirs.

The problem with material objects is that unless the object can deeply inspire some recessed memory, they just have values we’ve assigned to them, and many of those values are conflated tenfold what they’re really worth. Why do we let our impressions of objects enamor us to the point of tears? Why can’t we tear down false vestiges of past memories?

I’m looking at a box with 90s art now.

I’ve held onto it this long because I like the art. I don’t remember what the foodstuffs taste like that are depicted on the box and I don’t have any memories associated with that product. Why keep that box? Sometimes, it’s easier to hold onto these objects than to throw them away.

That box and that plunger have no further use.

It’s just, maybe, it’s nice to have objects that represent positive experiences. Maybe the plunger represents a boat of positive customer service experience in a sea of negative customer service experiences? I used to enjoy collecting broken objects like that, back when I fancied myself a bit of an artist. Now if I build anything, it’s for a utility, or its aesthetic could be nice to have around.

The plunger is in the trash.

It’s already received more life, with a few hundred words breathing personality into it, than any broken plunger had ever experienced before. What could I have turned it into? A turtle? A missile? It’s not even an object with any significant achievement or heroic sacrifice attached to it. But would I have kept it if it had? Or would telling its tale be enough? The “me” if today would argue that the object is not necessary for the “you” reading this to enjoy.

Besides, scant few would ever see that object, had I kept it…

Quotes: [1] Maintenance worker, whose name will be omitted.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: Exploring why I might be attached to this notion of keeping things so much.
Related: Other Downsizing Zeal essays.
Photo: The plunger object. There’s a rubber washer that plugs the water.
Written On: March 21st [30 minutes]
Last Edited: First draft; final draft for the Internet.
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.