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To Hold on to

Sarabjeet D Natesan

Author: Sarabjeet D Natesan

Date: Fri, 2017-07-14 15:07

The more we collect, in mind and in matter, the more disorder we create; and more stories and more memories too. Collecting things happens over a lifetime of living but letting go is very tough. Growing old also adds an extra coat of sentimentality to life, routine becomes precious and special becomes a treasure. And we can’t let go. In a life that is leaving us behind very quickly, making us irrelevant, we linger and ask everyone to understand the importance of things that were once important to us.  Families coming to terms with the loss of love also must deal with huge amounts of material possessions collected over many years, insensitive to throw and incapable of being held. Precious thoughts and relationships made and nurtured slip away, generations vanish, pictures fade and suddenly nothing remains. This thought poignantly hit me when I cleaned my parents’ house; everything that my mother had collected and cared for now lay in boxes, unused and unwanted. How much could I take with me, and where will I put it? Throwing them out meant tossing a lifetime of remembrances away and I was not brave enough to do so. Yet, I did it and still feel bad for some of the things I threw out that day.

That one act of emotional cathartic purging made me relentless in discarding things in my life. It was as if I was taking no hostages, leaving no identity behind. I made boxes, things were sorted, and things were thrown out or things were given away.  I stored nothing. I methodically threw out things that had not been used in the last three months. I became notorious, my family started hiding things, my husband would return home to see the watchman wearing his clothes, my kids found their toys missing, their comics collection given away, their favorite t-shirts turned into dusters. Everybody became wary of me and the worry was what next? If something was genuinely misplaced or at the cleaners, it was assumed that I had given it away!

But life teaches you nothing!

As a part of a quick exit plan, I had come to Mumbai with one suitcase and one small brown cardboard box containing one frying pan, one pan for making tea, one ladle, two plates, two cups, two spoons, two forks, two knives, two stainless steel tumblers (as used in south of India) and one empty jam bottle to stack the cutlery in, two sheets and one pillow. I also carried only salt and pepper and some tea and some sugar. I figured to myself, if I need to leave, there is nothing that will bind me here. I had no plans of buying anything, I was sure of that. I had taken a few trips to Mumbai before and I knew where to get tea and a simple breakfast. However much I love to cook, I had no intention of setting up a kitchen here. I had already told the person who cooked for us in Chennai to pack and freeze small portions of food for me on a day to day basis. I had planned to go home every weekend, take back empty containers and bring back new ones, full of food! But then life sneakily unfolded without taking my permission or without even bothering to inform me.

To help me to settle in, my husband insisted on accompanying me to Mumbai and our one and only trip to the market yielded an induction stove, four cut glasses, foot mats, a sieve, a peeler, a colander, a set of small jars to hold spices, a bottle of cooking oil, a water can, a broomstick, two buckets, a mirror and of course spices to fill the containers. And a six-pack and a bottle of wine. I suspect the last two were to help him more than me. No amount of reasoning, anger, tantrums deterred him. I told him that I plan to leave this place in a few weeks and then all this will go waste. By then he had become friendly with the guard downstairs and told me to leave it all with him and return.

The first week alone in a lake facing apartment was fine, the wine helped. I managed by making tea and maybe an egg and bought lunch and somehow carried it to dinner too. It was hot but leaving the balcony doors open and leaving all the fans on in the apartment helped create a good air flow. My morbid fear of ghosts also meant that I left the lights on in the night too. All of them! I also consciously did not get any more ‘stuff’ and used the cardboard box to fashion a table for my books and a solitary lamp. Very clean, and very minimalistic!

Into my second week, the friendly guard from the apartment building called me at work to inform me that there was a package waiting for me. Since I had not ordered anything, I told him it could not be for me. He insisted, and as I had nothing much to do, I went to check and found a television set, a refrigerator, an air-conditioner, a hairdryer, a clothes iron, yet another induction stove, a rice cooker and an umbrella waiting for me. I was livid as hell and told the delivery man to take it all back, but he dumped it there and drove off. And to add insult to a great deal of injury, my husband refused to answer his phone at this crucial moment, perhaps anticipating my cloud burst like reaction. My stress in the coming week only reached sky high proportions as I refused to unpack and stared at all these things with a very jaundiced eye. But then, the summers became scorching, my lunch to dinner plans started rotting, the lakeside balcony turned horribly hot, I wanted some sound in the apartment beside mine and the rains came and I had to get all gadgets installed one by one and the umbrella proved to be very useful! I was soon informed that all this had to be done as my family consisting of three girls and one husband were planning a holiday to Mumbai. My first piece of instruction to them was to carry plates, cups, glasses, and spoons with them and be ready to take them back with as well. With the summer holidays, my now grown up kids brought tons and tons of young junk and added further to it by going shopping almost every day. They also refused to take back the plates and the other things they had brought with them because there was no place left in their bags with all the shopping they had done. My pristine clean and minimalist apartment resembled a changing room of a mall and a back kitchen of a takeout restaurant and everything that I had controlled in my life, got tossed out!

My kids went back and when it came to cleaning up after them, I became too emotional, things which I would have tossed out earlier without a thought, became memories for me to hold on to. Since then, they have taken many vacations here, many visits, each which leaves its celebrations behind. Each recollection is more precious and more looked after.

My trunk of clutter has grown so has my fondness of keeping useless things; a ball of yarn, buttons, origami, origami paper, art supplies, books, grainy photographs taken at the Gateway of India, fashionable shopping bags, mountains of clothes, tons of shoes, makeup, headphones, pen drives, food delivery menus, half empty shampoo and conditioner bottles, extra pillows, bed sheets, and many other knick knacks.  The clutter has been cleaned, sorted and put away, but not thrown out; the regular has become precious and the precious has become prized and my exit plan has been altered. The friendly guard has been replaced and I don’t know if the new person will value my memories!

And life teaches you nothing!

 

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Comments

Extremely well written. Its time for a regular blog, as mentioned earlier.

Thanks, that's what good friends are for !

Deep and meaningful. Directly touches hearts.

Thank you !

There is an impressive subtlety in both, emotions and humor . I guess the write is aware and seeing life mature in a very conscious manner, perhaps time at hand affords such insight. It is truly a joy to read such simple language yet laden with deep emotions. My compliments to the author who is conducting her life so elegantly.

‘Collect experiences, not things’. Easier said than done and somewhat of a similar dilemma in your article. The many stages and milestones that we go through in our early years and then in our twenties, thirties and beyond can be seemingly complex. Our experiences and handling of situations at different life stages shape us into problem solvers the way it suits us. Some of us do this with ease, with panache and do not really introspect when we are younger. As we collect more experiences, and hopefully become wiser over the years, we would like to believe that we can or would have dealt with those same situations better. Our interaction with people too changes with time. We seek to be closer with family and have a limited but a closer friends’ circle as we get older. And then there are those life altering situations. A situation like what you have mentioned- the loss of a loved one, imbues within us a coping mechanism that we never knew existed. It is unique to each of us as to how to tide through tough times and has to be dealt with alone. Life altering situations however need not always be pathos evoking. They can be positive too and challenging; an opportunity which is exciting, unexpected and unpredictable. Relocation to a new country on a new assignment for instance. It might be prudent to handle positive or negative situations with patience and perseverance and grow into it or grow out of it. Whatever works! Give it time, give it your best and don’t be too hard on yourself. If you have to mope, mope till you get over it. If you have to explore something new, take your time but do it. ‘Time heals everything’. Again, easier said than done.

A wonderful read exploring the struggle between preserving memories and the effort to lead a clutter free life. As human beings we tend to find it difficult to let go of things. We would rather continue to live the lives we are comfortable with. The future is unpredictable and we find comfort in our set ways and routines. It probably is this need for security and sense of familiarity that we tend to cling to memories and material possessions with any association in a hope to reclaim and relive a part of our old lives. An old photograph, toy, a piece of clothing from our childhood bring back a rush of memories and nostalgia, a feeling unlike any other. Preserving objects due to their association with those we love may provide us a sense of enduring connection with them but it also gets us into a cycle of gathering more than we can manage over the years. I personally find it difficult to let go of things that have any association with a special person, memory, phase of life or a memorable incident and continue to stack up and hoard everything from clothes to books, magazines and mementos from travel. It is also at odds with my desire to lead a clutter free and minimalistic lifestyle. While being completely devoid of emotion and to have no attachments at all will make us less human, I believe it is important to be a little more objective in our quest to find a fine balance between the two.

A good blog by Ms. Sarabjeet Natesan, and one through her piece could truly ‘walk along’ the series of emotions and thoughts she transited through. From the maverick obsession to do away with things that were not used for over 3 months; to over time “the regular becoming precious and the precious becoming prized”. Life from a particular perspective; is either ‘making memories’ or ‘reminiscing memories’ with the contrasting melancholy recollections and regrets. Memories by many are stored in the form of things one has used in the past or ones that have been used by loved ones. Things that we hold on to and then cherish, each having their own fond memories. Testimony to such memorabilia are things we notice around a person’s workspace, perhaps gifts for a particular occasion or achievement, which are often kept for years and decades and sometimes throughout one’s career. Homes are of course cached with even more such memorabilia and often rightly so – memories living through each of such fondly held-on-to items. Then, there is the classic means to holding on to memories in the form of photographs and videos. Something that the digital age captures rampantly, even so often frivolously with abandon – thanks to modern age hardware with new versions of gizmos and gadgets on one hand; and the fast ever so easily available, increasing capability to store copious amounts of data. Quickly within the decade moving from megabytes to terabytes and the rampant and increasingly lower cost of data transfer with JIO’s disruption strategy, which turned out to be a game changer which has forced long standing players like Vodaphone and Airtel to out of compulsion offer such data access at a fraction of the costs at which they were charging earlier the populace. This quantum leap of humanity to capture, transfer and store data, has given rise to a new form of malady. That of storing too much and not needing to ever let go or delete what was useful earlier and useless now. Be that all the files in one’s computer that were so critical during a particular week or month, multiple versions of the same excel or powerpoint presentation carefully stored before an important review. Once the purpose of such files is over, they continue to stay on for no reason other than lethary to take the time to go through it and delete unwanted stuff and the all-knowing privilege, that life will go on smoothly if not attended to. On the other hand, the age of photos and videos “unlimited storage” is one more such scenario; where amusingly myriad photos and videos after being taken may not experience the honour, of being seen more than once after reviewing the immediate capture. Often, mindless and frequent capture of selfies for every different background several times a day, every day continue. Something that was seen as being vain, is now the order of the day. Having covered notes on physical memorabilia and digital memories; one of the best and most cherished, often nostalgic and inexpressible are the memories stored in our hearts and in our minds. With the Almighty’s gift to be able to access memories from one’s mind – drawn from events of the previous day, to others from a time long past by of one’s childhood and everything in between. Such are cherished memories, are then often narrated ever so fondly from one person to another, one generation to the next or to the one succeeding it; sometimes by the one who went through that experience, sometimes over generations, decades and even centuries - through word or letter.

A well-written blog. It reminded me of my mother’s struggle to throw away things that has no monetary value but high emotional value to her like our childhood toys, her marriage prop etc. She really cherished the nostalgia associated with those things, eventually infusing similar habit in us. Now, I really like keeping mundane items like old pair of socks or restaurant bills. The pleasure one can have after going through a restaurant bill some 2 years after is quite exciting; the nostalgia of that particular dinner event with your family or loved ones is amazing. The blog quite effortlessly pierces through our emotions making us think about how precious things can be and what kind of happiness they delivers. It is quite common nowadays to take pictures of every life event and store it for further remembrances but the joy that we can have by keeping these simple things physically is unmatchable. It actually triggers the emotional waves in the brain, taking us back to the memories associated with it. All of us face difficulty in moving from a place where we are settled from a long time and while moving we tend to keep some objects to cherish the memories of that place. Often we find teenagers keeping gifts from their loved ones for a long time and then disposing those things after separation to erase of the memories of him/her. It shows the power that a particular object has as it is quite difficult to forget that particular person with that object still there. I believe it is equally important to get rid of the things that are no longer useful, because after sometime, it becomes quite difficult to throw away things, which bears no value in our life still we keep it just for the sake of it. Finally, the author has elegantly placed her views and expressed a subject most of us are going through in our life.

Thank you for such a heartfelt article on one of the most common emotional dilemmas that people face. Letting go has never been easier for anybody. Be it friends, family members, parents or even the things you had in your childhood. Those things are not just inanimate, motionless objects. They always have a deeper meaning. They are gateways to our most precious memories. If this isn’t true then why is it that when we sit to clean our rooms, our moms screaming at the back to throw away the things that are not needed anymore, we have one look at piles of books and other stuff we used to have in our childhood and then just sit there for hours, taking everything one by one and reminiscing on the memories that particular thing contains? Sometimes we read those scrap books, which were filled during the last days of our school and when we are done with our journey down the memory lane, it’s almost late evening! Memories are all that we have, always. Obviously, it is difficult to even think of letting them go. It’s like we are throwing away a part of our yesteryears. Yes, letting go is difficult. Difficult but extremely important if we want to move forward in our lives. Memories should bring smiles to our faces, not hold us back from moving forward. And, if a memory or thing is doing just that, then it is time to let go of that thing. May be that’s the reason these days I have started spending more on experiences than on materialistic things. I understand I cannot totally get rid of them but tries to keep it low. Experiences are treasures which you carry in your mind and heart without paying a baggage fee, they are part of us even if we lose everything and stand alone.

This is an amazing article and I think almost everyone will relate to it. It shows how the writer, at first, didn't hold onto the things of her mother although she did realise that those things had emotions attached to them but then when she moved to Mumbai how she got attached to certain things her husband children bought. It's natural though, to get attached to something on an emotional level because we create our life around such things. And what happens with me most is that if I get attached to something I hold on to it forever. Like I had this friend who was very dear to me when I was a child. We used to send lame jokes to one another on WhatsApp when he left me to be his dad on the other side of the world. Not just joke, we would tell our daily proceedings to each other because we were like family. And now that we have moved on with our lives, we don't talk to each other that often (but we're still friends). We have grown apart in the sense that we're still friends but don't text each other daily. So, this was a surprise to me when I found that I didn't want to lose all the conversation I had with him even after years. Those chats give me flashbacks of how lame we were and how that time of my life helped me cope up with my problems. Now that I have a sort of life, I look back those moments and it gives me the strength to fight another war. I have emotions attached to those chats because my mind used to be at ease when I used to talk to him. I would never want to lose those chats even though "I should" because people think those are lame but I don't think they won't understand what joy those chats give me even now. And I'm glad I'm holding onto that.

As Keats said, “Thing of a beauty is a joy forever”. The blog has rekindled the dilemma which we humans face when making a connection in this strange world. We fail to differentiate between things and people at some point in time. We connect our loved ones with the things they loved. Be it a small barely existing thing like a handkerchief or the room they once occupied. And the thought of parting from these precious items induces a pang of guilt as if we are giving up on that particular memory or that person. Harder it may seem and harder it gets as the time passes by. Instead of dreading the ever increasing pile of collectibles, one should cherish the memories all those items shared with one. These things of beauty may bring back a lot good memories but do we really need them to remember our family? The love, warmth, and bond work in the same way and perhaps are stronger. So, the thing to celebrate is not the materialistic being but the moment it relates to. Beauty lies in complexity of things but nowadays there is an unspoken pressure of creating and capturing or documenting moments to remember. The blog somewhere also made me relook and rethink my connection with things that I call ‘precious’ or the people with whom I hold or should hold every moment precious. In this time and age, when the actual human interaction (especially amongst family members and loved ones) is on an all-time decline and technology has replaced the triggers for all kinds of memories I felt the need to fiercely protect and hold on to my clutter of things. It will be a constant struggle to have honest conversations with self and invest time in the real kind of interaction and collect materials and not just social media posts to revisit the actual moments and memories.

I completely agree with your views on emotional connection with things and would like to share my views on the same. Very soon I will be moving to Netherlands for further studies and I am worried what will happen to my things when I am away from my home. As a matter of fact there were number of times I have tried to sort out the so called junk, and in all efforts, I failed to differentiate between useful and useless junk. Be it Physics book used in ninth standard or pen stand which I made in fourth standard, all seems close to my heart. The badminton racket, on which my sister had her eyes on and I will shout at her if she even touches it, will be hers now. Will all the shoes in the rack wait till my next visit to India? Or all of them will be given away by my mother? Should I discard the things just because they are old or because I have not used them for quite a while? Is it fair? By this logic should I discard people from my life just because they are old or because I have not talked to them for a few days? No. Never. So why we have to discard these little things which have more emotional feelings attached to us? Life is not at all fair. It puts you in dilemma always, at least in case of non-living things, that you don’t want to disown. Now I am in dilemma WHAT TO LEAVE and WHAT TO TAKE.

Often life throws this question on us “Whether to hold on to or let it go”. This may sound easy, but it takes a lot of courage to let it go specifically when that “it” is a dear memory. We have a habit of keeping things as remembrance of an event. Perhaps that’s why cameras were developed. It helps to lock our special moment as a picture which stays with us forever. However, it’s not just pictures its everything around us which is somehow related to that event, act as an impression of our memory. We tend to clench on to anything or everything which can make us relive that dear memory. Sometimes, amidst this rejoice of memory, we lose track of reality and get stuck with the past. We try to hold on to things and eventually they stop us from moving forward. So, then how should one decide that it’s the time to let go of the memory and it’s the time to embrace the present. As per my opinion we can never let go of any memory, it may become sub-conscious but it always stays with us. Therefore, the fight to hold on to or to let go vanishes the moment we realize that it will always be with us but to let it affect us or not is something we need to decide consciously. As Sarbjeet Ma’am tried to get rid of her memory by letting go of her stuff yet the emotions in her words itself depicts that she still holds all those memory to her heart. We can get rid of things but not memory. Memories are undetachable, things are just to relate. So, when people say get rid of all the things of a person we are trying to forget, they are just trying to remove the superficial causes. The real culprit “memory” will still be present. So, is this means there is no way out, fortunately there is and that is “time & acceptance”. For a bad memory, the healer is the time, with the passing time we come in to acceptance of the wrong that has happened. Our mind instead of lingering to what has happened starts to move towards what can now be done. This is how a bad incident changes in to a great lesson which shows the memory just transforms, it doesn’t vanishes. For a good memory, our mind keeps making us remember those beautiful events to inspire us to move forward and make more of such memories. However, if a person becomes too absorbed and abrupt this natural process he/she can get trapped in to the vicious circle of memory bound. Therefore, acceptance is very important in one’s life. It helps to keep the loving memories a live and aware of the bad ones. It shows the way ahead. It’s surprising to realize that many a times, our actions are being guided by a sub-conscious undetachable memory, because the mind and the heart want to feel the joy all over again.

‘And life teaches you nothing!’ – This line spoke volumes throughout the post. Sarabjeet Ma’am, it was a pure delight reading your write-up and I wonder if you have a blog of your own? The way you blended facts, myths, emotions, wit and humour in this piece is pure brilliance. I could relate to several parts of the story you narrated to the experiences that my mother and I have had. You have put across the concept how through simple things in life, like holding on to a box actually in a way implies how we humans tend to holding on to people and memories who have left us or have faded away with time. I recall my childhood, when much like your children, I dreaded my mother for she was notorious in throwing or giving away things. There was this one incident which I remember vividly when she had given away our (my brother and I) favourite war machine – a metal Tank to the dhobi’s child. The sight of the kid throwing around the Tank in the corridor broke our hearts. That evening was the saddest evening of our childhood life! Little did we know, there were many more to follow. Losing the Tank was one thing, but losing every other toy or dress/frock felt like we were getting stripped off of our childhood. My red frock, designed as the one that Kajol wore in DDLJ, was turned into rag. The scrabble tiles and tile holder were thrown away while the board remained neatly packed in the cupboard. To add to that, our Tinkle and stamp collection turned to shreds right after the summer vacations were over. It seemed very illogical to have our things thrown/given away and we, just like your family members, tried hard to hide things away from mother. I, wary of becoming a notorious ‘Thrower’, tried your way of escaping it - minimalistic approach towards setting up my room. I have some traits of my mother of course, genes couldn’t be beaten, but I do try to not overload my room with things which I don’t direly need. However, I have, in the course of time, differed from how my mother is. I have kept a now blotched saree that my grandmother used to wear when she would visit us. She had kept it with us and after her demise I made sure that I don’t lose it. I look at that saree and I get reminded of how independent and strong a woman she was, my grandmother. I don’t think I will ever wear that blotched saree. But I do believe that there should be something physical that helps you connect to your core, your roots. Moving on, by throwing or giving away things attached to memories, is very important to move ahead in life, to heal from disasters and live with peace at heart. Holding on to memories in things is what will always remind you of the person that you are and the people who have touched your lives.

The article reminds me of one of my favourite songs- Let her go, by Passenger. It makes me contemplate about the contrast we experience in holding on to things, people, dreams and memories. The author talks about the fast pace of life and says- “In a life that is leaving us behind very quickly, making us irrelevant, we linger and ask everyone to understand the importance of things that were once important to us.” It is in this fast pace of life we often fail to acknowledge simple moments in the present and hold on to memories and things carrying reminiscent of the past. Realising that holding on to memories can have an adverse effect on us and we decide that it is best in our interest to let go of things and value them at economic value rather than emotional value just like the author did when she gave away things which have not been used in a while. My concern was why do we hold on to memories but let go our dreams. “Staring at the bottom of your glass, hoping one day you'll make a dream last, but dreams come slow and they go so fast” – are the lyrics of the song mentioned above which emphasis on holding on to dreams. Although most people work hard to achieve their dreams, more often than not the little dreams- be it visiting a particular place, learning to play an instrument, learning a new language, going for adventure sports, writing a book and the like get lost in the day to day hustle bustle. Holding on to dreams does not come innately just like holding on to memories and we might end up letting go of our dreams. It also happens that we are so busy to catch up with the fast pace of life that we do not hold on to people. Everyone would have had at least one friend we wish we didn’t lose touch with, at least one incident when we wished to be besides someone but couldn’t because of professional commitments or at least once when we fail to spend time with people who matter. These make our relationships slip away gradually and we only realise it when we “let someone go” out of our life. We let emotions take a back seat and get technology to aid us but technology is also partly responsible for the widening gaps in relationships although it brings the world and our loved ones’ closer. Using technology as a proxy for personalised presence has become the norm, but no gift, no connect by Skype or Facetime can replace the personal effort of being with loved ones. The ad by Amazon recently on #DeliverTheLove only reinforces that idea. To me it means not letting go of opportunities to create memories. “Well, you only need the light when it's burning low, only miss the sun when it starts to snow”, so hold on to people and dreams before its time to let it all go away.

Thank you Ms. Sarabjeet Natesan for sharing this inspiring experience. I really admire your bold step of taking up minimalist living in a new city. I think we can all relate to your story in so many ways. Moving to a hostel is a very similar experience we all went through recently. This was my first time moving out of home and like any other parents, mine not only over-packed my luggage with food, appliances and clothes, they also booked tickets for themselves and my sister to help me get settled here properly. Hence, the first week of my hostel life was nowhere like the fresh start and a new beginning like I had planned it to be. On top of being overloaded with academic work in the first week, I was all over the place trying to unpack, find a space for things and buying new things as my lovely mother had over-anticipated everything that I would need in a hostel. Little did she know that I would be bringing a suitcase full of things back home with me on the very first visit. Now my hostel room was de-cluttered but my home and my room back home was overloaded with my things. I came back home after a long day and a delayed flight. We, as Indians, have the habit of hoarding things. That teddy bear from 3rd class is still used as a showpiece by the bed. My wall-hanging (craft project from school) is still on my door. My pictures with college friends are still stuck on the pin-board. I was back in the room where I have lived all my childhood. And the things in that room made it my home. In that moment I realized how much more comfortable and welcoming my cluttered room was than my de-cluttered hostel room. Living minimalist is a concept hyped all across the world and no doubt there are many advantages to it. Like Ms. Sarabjeet Natesan aptly stated, you have the power or leaving the place anytime you want. You shop less and save money on useless things. You have a cleaner and a more open living space. However, it is the things and the clutter that make you feel a sense of belonging. Without a clutter of things carrying memories, a home is just a house. One might not carry everything around with them, but a few things that ground you to your past happy memories are definitely needed.

Thankyou ma’am for writing on this emotional and relatable article. Objects leave behind a world to which we can easily be transported by just looking at them. We connect to some things so much that when someone tries to take them away from us, we retaliate as if they were trying to take that memory away itself. A memory doesn’t just remain a memory then, the object associated with it becomes just as valuable to us as the memory itself. When my mother walks in to my room, she finds the items that I hold on to junk and wishes to throw them away. She sneaks into my room, eager to clean it and is always welcomed by me, refusing to let her close to my precious memorabilia. Scattered across my room, my memories in the form of things, including old calendars, jeans that don’t fit anymore, old board games, video games which I know I will never play again, CDs full of songs which can now easily be found online, pens which are out of ink, and most importantly my prized GI Joe and toy cars collection from when I was 10. It is easy to hold on to the past, because it is comfortable and familiar. It makes us feel less vulnerable and more protected. But it’s important for us to step out of our comfort zone to grow and learn. It’s not easy, but being vulnerable makes us stronger and helps us experience things in a new way. I’m not arguing that we give up our memorabilia entirely, but we need to know where memories end and the present begins. A reluctance to let go of things can also mean reluctance to let go of the past. Since memorabilia is so powerful that it can take us back, holding on to items, say, of a former girlfriend, would mean painful reminders of the past everyday. In this case, getting rid of things associated with her will mean readiness for a new relationship. Therefore, while memories need to be kept close and treasured, we shouldn’t lose track of the present memories we are making. We need to give way to new memories. On the flip side, the fast changing world and growing technology is providing a whole new dimension to this puzzle of storing or trashing objects related to memories. With technology changing so fast, the life cycles of TVs, refrigerators, phones, etc are reducing by the day and hence minimalizing the attachment one has with these consumer durable goods. Similarly, cloud storage has completely disrupted the concept of storing photo albums. More and more people are converting their old photos to digital copies and saving them on the cloud. There are many more examples that showcase how the new age world is facilitating us to store and share our memories in a smart way.

Thank-you ma’am for sharing such a personal experience with us. The article has been brilliantly written. I think in some way or the other we can all relate to this article. We’re all trying to be independently strong individuals, to move on and accept the changed environment. However, the memories that we hold on to so dearly try to pull us back every time. I still remember the time I took a solo-trip to Mumbai; I still have kept a number of things like tickets, photographs, and restaurant bills to hold on that moment and feeling and every time I think about throwing it off as it’s just adding to the trash, I somehow end up convincing myself that these are the memories of some of the best days of my life and I need to store it. On a larger scale, if we look at it I think this is the attitude that prevents us to grow. The attachment with things prevents us from moving to a different environment or adapting to different ways of doing things. Looking at the example of Infosys, NRN Murthy, even after he stepped back from the active running of the company couldn't let go and raised a hue and cry about the executive pay packages and drew comparisons to his own. This led the CEO, Vishal Sikka, to step down and created troubles in the functioning of the company. At the end of the day, I think it all boils down to not being attached to things, to be able to love and yet, let go. When you hold on to things, you aren’t able to test your limits, you aren’t able to explore yourself and know what you’re capable of. Also, only when you let go of stuff from the past are you able to create a space for new ones. I do acknowledge the fact that at times, just going back to those memories and cherishing them is a source of happiness and provides us with the strength to deal with life, but they also make us weak in the sense that it then becomes difficult for us to accept change and take up better opportunities in life. This doesn’t mean that nothing should be important to us; going to an extreme of anything is bad. It just implies that you need to know “when to let go”. As soon as you think it anything has started to affect your personal growth or development or is making you weak emotionally, that should be your cue.

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