Mindful Living: How Mementos Translate To Memories

I have a trunk filled with mementos from all my early years of travels. Some may even call it a “footlocker,” although it’s never lived at the foot of any bed.

If nothing else, the description gives you an idea of its size, which is substantial. It has those nifty silver-colored latches on either side. It also has a place for a padlock, should I decide to have an extra layer of protection for these things that represent local and foreign places I’ve been and things I’ve seen.

I have stopped counting how many times the trunk has been moved from new place to new place. With each move, I open the treasure chest and peer inside to see what I could get rid of to lessen the load. As you might expect, I have rarely removed even one item from the smorgasbord it’s become. I also haven’t added anything new in over a decade because those items have found a public place somewhere in my home.

Now that I am even more committed to mindful living, every time I go through a phase of actively purging things, I review the items in this trunk. Over the last several years, I have even made a point of mentally preparing myself to remove as many items as I can; yet every time I close the trunk and put it back in its place, the mementos remain intact.

Because each review of an item turns into a wonderful reminiscing. So I convince myself that it’s OK not to throw anything out.

After all, I’ve contained it only ONE trunk.

And we have the space.

And it’s so sturdy, it’s a great base onto which we can stack other boxes.  

And…you catch my drift.

What I have a learned through the countless attempts to throw away things from the trunk is that they are not “things”.

When it comes to day-to-day items from my closet, my kitchen, or my office, I can purge with reckless abandon. I have no problem quantifying, if you will, the value of the item and its importance to my daily life.

But year after year I’ve found that this trunk of mementos falls into an entirely different category. As I hold each item, I have a sensory experience with sights and sounds. The clarifying details of each interaction become more heightened instead of what would have been only general recollections.

It is as though these items contain the very heart of my early travel history.

And while it seems counterintuitive - therein lies the beauty of mindful living for me. I am making a mindful choice to keep this trunk and dispose of things only when I am able.

What I have a learned through the countless attempts to throw away things from the trunk is that they are not “things”. I am so grateful for everything I’ve learned and gained from these opportunities that I am unwilling to dispose of the things that unlock these visceral reactions.

So this year, I will once again attempt to remove from the trunk but will be more forgiving of myself if, after the lid is closed, the garbage can remains empty.

What mementos of yours are your “memory keepers”?

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