The more time I spend pondering this, the more I think it could be true. It seems everything in life is on loan. I can’t help but wonder; do we truly OWN anything?
I have lost several significant family members over the past two years. With each one’s passing I have watched their possessions be shuffled off to charity, landfill or on to other family or friends. It made me question the point of it all? My Auntie’s once cherished Royal Albert dinner set, a 21st birthday ‘key’ made of timber and covered in signatures of family and friends long passed, “Who wants this?” her 3 grown up sons ask each other. They all have ‘stuff’ of their own. Who has the room or the desire to keep these things, once cherished, by my darling Auntie? And why collect it all in the first place?
You can work hard all your life, pay off your house, but you can’t really, truly, own that land. You can’t do what you like with it without getting council permission. And when you’re gone…? Do your family keep it or sell it? Do you leave it to the local charity?
Perhaps organization expert Marie Kondo has the right idea? Hold your things in both hands and ask “Does it bring me joy?” If the answer is no, get rid of it. Should we just simplify our possessions before we leave this mortal earth and save those left behind the task of deciding what happens to it? And why did we work so hard to get it in the first place?
I once had lunch with a beautiful lady who was in her 80th decade. I looked around her little retirement village unit and she said to me “You’re wondering why I have so few things aren’t you? I’ll tell you why, I’ve given most of it away. At some point in your life you realise you don’t own your things, your THINGS own YOU. It’s actually liberating to get rid of it.”
On the other hand, it IS lovely to collect things that bring you joy. They can be the simplest things. Things that are worth nothing to anyone but you. I listened to a sweet lady tell me that when her mother died, she and her middle aged sisters all argued over who would get their mother’s sweets jar. An old jar that once held jam or some such thing. Worth no money, but absolutely rich in memories. If those ladies held that jar and asked if it brought them joy, they’d all cry with nostalgic memories of the joy of being treated to a sweet from that jar.
I think the best thing to do is keep things that bring you joy, try not to get too attached to material things, don’t be fooled by the consumerist marketing that bombards our modern lives, and most importantly enjoy life’s sweet little moments. Sip your tea and savor the taste, the steam, the warmth, the cup in your hand. In the end the only things we can truly keep are our memories. Like the ladies with that sweets jar. Make beautiful memories, collect them, treasure them, keep them as long as you can. I can’t help but think of a quote from the TV Series Six Feet Under “Everything. Everyone. Everywhere. Ends.”
Heavy thoughts. In the meantime I will try and keep a happy medium, and ponder who will want my vintage tea towel collection when I fall off my perch…?