Stuff and Nonsense?

There’s a beautiful scene from one of my favorite movies “Throw Momma From the Train” that I think you’ll like, too. Take a minute to watch.

I had an Owen/Larry moment this morning. My neighbor, who’s going on vacation for a couple of weeks, was telling me how worried she is because her son and his friends, who are housesitting for her, “won’t be careful with my stuff.”

“Um … you mean they’ll mess up the kitchen and reprogram the TV?” I said. A little humor … maybe she’s obsessing a bit too much …

“No, no,” she said impatiently. “It sounds crazy, but I’m really attached to certain things, and I worry about them. Like my coffee mug. I won’t use anything but that mug in the morning, and I’ll tell you why. My roommate from college gave it to me. It was the first thing she ever made in her pottery class and it was practically her most treasured possession. But when we graduated—I couldn’t believe it! She gave it to me.” My neighbor’s eyes turned soft. “She was really something. Always there for me, during some pretty bad times. I drink my coffee, and for just a second, I think of her. She’s gone, but I have that mug.”

Who knew? I sure didn’t. I wonder if her family knows. If they did, they might not think her insistence on that mug, and ONLY that mug, wasn’t such nonsense.

I suspect that if all of my neighbor’s stuff, or my stuff, or yours, were to suddenly go up in flames, it would feel like a horrible tragedy but … we’d all get over it eventually. The real tragedy would be that the stories connected to some of that stuff might never get told.

Are you at that stage of life when you’re trying to get rid of stuff? (I am.) You may be feeling conflicted about saying goodbye to a lot of it. But … there sure is a LOT of it. And you can’t save it all.

Know that the memories are as important, actually more important, than the object itself. You could spend time telling somebody the story of your stuff, as Owen did—but stories, like things, disappear one way or another.

So here’s an idea. Why not write a few lines about the mug, or a blanket, or a silly knick knack—or a nickel, a quarter, a nickel, a penny. Tell the story. Write it down. And maybe even take a picture of it.

The mug might get broken or be given away, and the change might get spent. But you’ve safely kept the most important part of your Stuff. The story. And at the same time, you’ve given yourself permission to let stuff go.

It’s a shorthand way to write some of your own story. And it’s a way to help you move on. Try it!