I've been reflecting a lot on stuff lately. To be clear, I've not been reflecting on a lot of stuff, but on stuff itself--things, posessions, mementos. I have a lot of stuff. Most of which is fairly junky and meaningless. Oh sure, I have the first book that made me love reading, my grandmother's antique china, and the same teddy bear I've been sleeping with since I was eight (yes, I'm almost 40 and still sleeping with a teddy bear, not the point here). But most of the other stuff I've got is just that . . . stuff.
Is there any particular reason to keep stacks of old magazines? A miniature Etch-A-Sketch? A vase full of old wine corks? I think no. So why do I still have them? Lots of reasons, including I might need them someday, they amuse me, or they remind me of something. But as I've been thinking about all of this stuff, it's occurring to me (slowly -- after all, I have been a packrat all my life) that I don't really need any of it. All those things I've hung onto to remind me of some time in the past? I don't need them to remember celebrating my wedding with everyone that I love. I don't need them to remember that time my girlfriends and I went to Chicago and got into all kinds of shenanigans. I don't need them to remember every happy Christmas spent with my family. I don't need them to remember what's really important.
Last weekend, I celebrated a friend's baby shower, after which a group of us went to dinner. We reminisced about ridiculous times we'd had together, talked about other loved ones who weren't at the table, and looked to future adventures we'd have together. I didn't need to take the paper napkin ring and slip it into my purse in order to remember that evening with my friends (or all the others that had come before it). Because what's important isn't the stuff, the memento, the physical reminder -- it's the connection to the people who matter the most, it's the collective memories we share together, it's the promise of new beginnings.
As I think about all the needless stuff I've collected, I have realized that it's really the intangibles that decorate your life and not the tchotchke you picked up on the boardwalk in 1987. Don't worry, I'm not going all zen Buddhist on you -- but I think maybe the impermanence of things is a good reminder of what is permanent: love, laughter, memories, the promise of the future . . . and that is what's really important.