Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action. If you’d like to submit your story of how simplicity has worked in your life, please read more here. You can write about anything from decluttering a junk drawer to simplifying your diet. Let your small and big changes inspire others.
I’ve always been a sentimental person. I used to have a whole box of concert flyers from where my band played. I’ve saved piles of hotel matchbooks from places I’ve stayed. I even kept a sweatshirt that didn’t fit anymore because I once placed it on a girl I loved when she was cold. Magazines, handwritten notes, books with special dedications inside, even blurry photographs, were all well protected in dusty boxes.
Living a minimalist life has always appealed to me. I’ve always kept an uncluttered home. But my closets were full of things that I didn’t know how to let go. It wasn’t until I stumbled across some great minimalist blogs that I finally learned how. Writers like Courtney Carver, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Becker were all an inspiration. They made me realize that maybe the items I kept stuffed in dusty boxes could be honored in a different way.
These boxes were filled with more than just junk – they held my memories. But, in all honesty, I almost never opened at them. They sat gathering dust. I only looked through them when I was moving or cleaning. I think the same is true for a lot of people. How many times does a person say “I need those matches from the Baltimore hotel I stayed at 8 years ago” or “Where’s that sweater that used to smell like a beautiful girl but now smells like musty newspapers?” Almost never.
When I realized that I could upgrade my memories, I made a plan. I made a plan to digitize everything.
Photographs, flyers and posters were easy – I scanned them. A digital picture doesn’t deteriorate. I no longer had to worry about cleaning it, moving it or protecting it. I no longer had to worry about fires or water damage. And once that loving memory was uploaded to Flickr or Dropbox, I didn’t worry about loss or theft.
Bulky items were next – those old sweaters, my punk rock jacket from high school, the watch my father had given to me when I graduated college, I photographed all of them. And not just a snap shot of each, I took the most professional, beautiful pictures I could manage. I took several different photos from different angles. Digital pictures have the same sentimental benefits as the item itself. But pictures are easier to manage and take up zero space.
Now that the photos of my favorite items are uploaded, I can see them whenever I want. I don’t have to search or move dusty boxes. I don’t have to spend hours searching for something. Every handwritten note from my grandmother is perfectly preserved. In fact, I have pages and pages of memories right at my finger tips whenever I want them.
Cleaning out the junk was the easiest part of the whole process. And yes, once you take pictures of your sentimental items, they really do seem more like junk. Recycling or discarding them was easy. I tossed them all out and haven’t regretted getting rid of a thing. I already had better versions of everything. I had upgraded my memories.
So remember, the next time you put your sweatshirt around someone you love, take a picture. It will last longer.