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The Things We Carry

— Time off at Christmas gave me a chance to sift through a pile of junk in my garage. I put some of the stuff up on shelves. Some stuff I threw away. And I found something interesting.

It was a small cigar box I’ve kept for many years that’s been moved from one drawer or shelf to the next. Inside the box were a dozen photos. There was one of my late dog, Clifford, lying on the floor of a house I once rented in Minnesota. There was a picture of my daughter Sophie, smiling in her Halloween costume when she was two years old. There were foreign currency bills and a silver ring I haven’t worn in years.

There was something about this box that made it seem like it belonged to someone else… as if I’d happened upon it in some abandoned property. What would a stranger make of this random collection of pictures, odds and ends? What history would they imagine had been mine, when I took those photographs?

The things we keep don’t make a lot of sense. But they speak strongly of us and our time on the planet. One other thing I found in that pile of stuff in the garage was a collection of letters I’ve written in the past. Remember letters? I think I’ll keep those. Maybe someone will read them someday.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Greg Duch'

Greg Duch | January 7, 2011 at 7:22 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

I find that "saving" personal items is a way to hold on to things tangible which somehow link a past event to the present moment.

Those "tangibles" work as cognitive adhesive tape to past events.

Those past times are free-floating abstractions in my consciousness.
So my potpouri of "personal effects" acts as a tangible, visible, physical collage of remembrances of past events. Those existential knick-knacks somehow confirm and reinforce the reality and relevance of that which has evaporated into the past. They say yes, that time in my life had meaning, and was a worthwhile use of my life on this earth. Reality is a state of mind. But reality needs physical props, to serve as sign posts to keep our reality integrated and
consonant.

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