No object should be condemned to a lifetime in storage. Our homes are filled with closets, attics, basements, and cupboards, and those spaces get filled up with objects. Sooner or later we stop looking at the back of the closet or that top shelf. The less you see something, the less likely you are to use it, and then it becomes clutter, and before you know it, you’re drowning in your own home. You may find you’re unhappy, but guess what? Your things aren’t happy either.
Objects exist for our use and our pleasure. They’re here to cook us delicious meals, help us throw parties, sleep at night, relax after a day at the office, clothe us, fill our homes with beauty and happiness, and endless other things. But if we let them get shoved to the backs of closets or placed in boxes never to be opened again, we’re doing a disservice to both our objects and ourselves.
I recently went through my shoes and my beautiful red heels, once my favorite pair, were at the bottom of the shoe cubby. Over the years I had been able to fill in scuffs with a matching red nail polish, get new tips on countless times, but they were coming apart in places that I knew meant it was finally time for the trash bin. But I couldn’t let them go. I loved those heels. So how did I come to terms with finally saying goodbye?
A lot of people think Marie Kondo is a little nutty for suggesting people talk to their belongings, but that was honestly the only way I could let go of those shoes. I thanked them for making me look and feel beautiful. I thanked them for coming to me at a killer sales price. I thanked them for all the compliments we received when I wore them. I thanked them for their many years of service, and I gently placed them in the trash can. And you know what? I don’t miss them. They’re not hanging over my head, and I don’t feel that tinge of guilt every time I see them, knowing that I should try and take them to the cobbler, to do something so they don’t just sit there. But sometimes I do think of them. And I smile at their memory. Objects are meant to be used, and it’s not fair to take their purpose away from them.
Sometimes the things we love happen to be used less and less. Using your finest dishes stops when you have children and have to start using plastic, we outgrow toys, clothes go out of style, we upgrade to a nicer version, etc. Sometimes it’s easy to get rid of an item that’s broken or a gift we never liked, but other times it’s impossibly hard to let something go. In these instances it’s important to differentiate between true joy and the joys of a memory. Maybe you have an old prom dress sitting in your closet. I imagine holding it might bring back wonderful memories, but the object itself isn’t bringing you joy. Feel free to say thank you and discard it. The memories will still be there after the objects are long gone.
If you do truly love something, but it’s somehow fallen into disuse, use it! Make a point of pulling out the china for Sunday night dinners, use your grandmother’s silver collection once in a while, and make a point of having a fondue party every year! Place these things in a space in your home where they are more easily accessed so it doesn’t become such a chore to get it out and enjoy it.
We all have things tucked away in closets or attics that once served a purpose, that once brought immense joy, but maybe it’s served its purpose or inevitably, you’ve changed and things that once brought you joy are reminders of the past and don’t fit in with who you are now. So clean out your closets, your old toys, baby clothes, dvd collections, everything! Decide what you love and make a point to use it, display it, love it. And then? Get rid of the rest. Give a thanks and send them on their way. Let it go on its path in peace whether it be to the trash bin or finding a new life for itself in a new home. Don’t condemn your belongings, once loved or not, to a lifetime in the dark corners and storage spaces of your home.