I am not a hoarder – far from it. Family and friends, matter of fact, have been known to stalk my dumpster. They know I am a free-flinger of things I no longer want or need, things they are shocked/stunned/delighted to find in my refuse.
That said there are some things that are harder to part with, even when they have outlived their usefulness, broken down, or found their way out of my line-up of currently-in-use stuff. An artist-friend reminded me of this last week, when she posted on Facebook that she had to replace her laptop and wondered whether she’s “weird because she’s sad to see it go.”
Got me to thinking about those inanimate objects we find ourselves looking at like they’re old friends. I know lots of folks whose cars have names, who talk to their computers (some in fluent four-letter,) whose favorite kitchen knife would be one of the first things saved from a fire, perhaps even before the family photo album. Why is it that we develop such deep attachment to things? Is it weird? I don’t think so.
It is not weird to have respect for tools that have served us long and well. When the time comes to trade them in, replace them, or just let them go, it is the memories of the things we’ve made with them, the conversations we’ve had with family on them, the wild rides with friends we’ve taken in them that stir those feelings of nostalgia and loss. It’s not the thing – it’s all the thing represents – and it makes us sad.
That is not weird, that is human.
Anyone who does not experience sadness, wistful remembrance of wonderful times past, has not fully experienced the wonderful things in life. To have lost something or someone, to have to let go of a thing you love, is a sad and terrible thing. It is also a joyful and fortunate thing to have known the gift at all.
Next time you double-clutch over the waste bin – with your 4-pound cell phone, your cassette player, your size 6 jeans – remember, it’s okay to feel a little sad at the letting go.
Don’t let anyone tell you “It’s just stuff.”
Remember, though, neither is it a horcrux, so don’t be sad for long.