Just over 7-years ago, I arrived in the Czech Republic with one suitcase. Later, I shipped one box to myself. It wasn’t a large box. I left a large house stuffed to the brim with stuff and do you know what, I didn’t really miss any of it. Anything I did miss turned out to have a connection to someone in my life. I did miss being able to look at certain photographs of my family, my boys, my parents, my college days. I did miss the framed picture bought for me as a gift by my Aunt in New Orleans as it reminded me of my Uncle who died too young. I missed a few items – trinkets mainly – given to me by my father and by my mother. All of these have since been retrieved. I also did subsequently panic about where my Ph.D thesis was again because its a one off put together the hard way before word processors and easy printing. My son has it so its safe.
So here I am 7-years later and we begin to pack to move back to Brno from Prague. Once again, I am surrounded by life’s junk. The stuff you think you need but really don’t. The stuff you keep because you may actually one day need it but never do. How did I accumulate so much crap again? Why?
What is it that I really value? That’s the question I ask myself right now. To be honest, it is again the small treasures probably worthless to anyone else that have an association with someone special that are the only things I value. The photograph of my Father on Eigg, the photo of my eldest son sat in the cockpit of a 747 mid-atlantic (shows how dated that is!), the electric guitar that I spent more than a year delivering newspapers at 1GBP per week to purchase, the photo collection of my boys, my parents and my brothers, the letter Gabriela sent to me with a 4-leaf clover in it and perfumed, the family history notes my Dad made as we worked on our ancestry together, the drawings, paintings and scribblings of my daughter saved in folders….. you get the drift.
At the end of the day its about memories but more importantly its about people for the treasured items are people-focused and trigger memories. Those memories are both good and not so good but they are strong and vibrant. When I move, I take with me my memories. I don’t need to pack them in a bag they are just there and a certain item, a certain smell will conjure them immediately in my mind. I suppose these memories, experiences, are the treasure that we accumulate in life while we somehow also accumulate so much bloody material junk.