Birds don’t keep their nests.

The studio is full of boxes again. Mostly I find myself ignoring them a best as I can- the goal is eventually to put them into the new storage shed, but we need to put up some additional shelves before we can do that, so in the meantime they lurk around the edges of my mind. 

They’re mostly full of mementos: old notebooks and sketchbooks and memorabilia from high school and college. It’s not valuable stuff, just sentimental, but I find myself beginning to wonder whether I ought to clear a bunch of it out. What is my responsibility for holding onto memories, anyway? Is it necessary that I keep everything or can I curate my personal artefacts to only the ones that please me and make me proud? Is this curating or censoring? Are these objects the true measure of my self or are they raw material from which I can collage a work of some deliberate meaning? 

Often, when I look back on mementos from particular eras of my life, I find myself embarrassed- sometimes for my candor, sometimes for my artifice, sometimes for my painful, painful naivete which manages to be both artificial and candid at the same time. Is it really worth holding on to these mementos that inevitably put me into A Mood for several days after each encounter?  A part of me thinks that keeping these memories, however unpleasant, keeps me humble and reminds me to stay out of the kind of trouble that might lead to deeper problems than a little self consciousness. Another part of me believes that if these were important facets of my past then I would’ve actually, you know, remembered them. Without help. That carrying around the added burden of these old, discarded skins of former selves is adding an unnecessary burden to my journey.  Cicadas don’t keep their shells. Snakes don’t keep their skins. Butterflies don’t keep their cocoons. Life’s too short. 
For all this deliberating, I still don’t have an answer in mind. Maybe I’ll get rid of some things, maybe I won’t. But it’s time to at least stay asking whether it is worth making the change.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on September 28, 2017.

One Response to “Clearout”

  1. I’m struggling with the same thing currently too. After moving multiple times, I’ve toted the same bins with the same stuff now for years. I too have been wondering, “why?” And “why can’t I let this go? Do I really still need to keep it?”

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