x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Out with the old to make room for new memories

De-cluttering is a task that never seems to end. We tend to store things that we assume we might one day need, keeping everything in a dark room.

De-cluttering is a task that never seems to end. We tend to store things that we assume we might one day need, keeping everything in a dark room. It might be an environmentally friendly option to re-use a 20-year-old camcorder that doesn't work, or a TV that broke down and serves no useful purpose because the cost of repairing it is far more than buying a new one. But then, we also tend to accumulate and collect bits and pieces for their supposed sentimental value and the memories they bring back.

@body arnhem:I have just completed an extensive de-cluttering of my room, going through all the drawers, papers and a box that I believed was my "memories box". In this box I saved all the cards, letters, cinema tickets, ribbons and all those useless little bits and pieces that we accumulate every day and that build up over the years. I realised there were things in there that dated back more than 20 years! I still can't believe I can say "10 years ago!" let alone "20 years!" I am in denial.

In that box I found a birthday card I got when I turned three, a card from a friend that read "First class best friend" and a jumbo birthday card from my school friends. I still had stuffed toys, frames with pink hearts, and my childhood diary that had a daily entry of "Fine day" because I clearly remember I was too lazy to write. I only wrote when I was disappointed, expressing how I felt. "My friends don't like me" or "My sister didn't speak to me." The reasons now seem very trivial.

I looked at all those cards, toys and scribbles in a notebook that were supposed to be my artistic attempts at writing, aged four. Yes, they were cute, and some were funny, but why was I really holding on to that notebook? As for the cards, I can't even remember some of the people I got them from. So I asked myself, is it really for the memories they bring back? Or is it because they shape who I am, a piece of my history, revealing where I came from and how I felt at one point?

In this process you are faced with the question of what is worth keeping and what should just go. It is a difficult situation; you have to take a decision (can you let that go?) about something you might regret throwing out in the future. Or regret not holding on to that weak strand of hope. I guess I have a fear of regret. As simple as this process might seem, I had to call a couple of friend for some de-cluttering tips.

One friend's simple tip was, if it doesn't give you the "Ahhh" for the memory that it brings back, then it goes into the bin. I asked another friend, who is married, whether she moved all the "sentimental" stuff to her new home. She told me it all accumulated at her parents' house, and although her mother wanted her to go through it and sort it all out, she never quite got around to that. She has already moved on; she has a husband and three children. So everything was simply cleared out.

At the turn of the decade, I look at all the childhood memories I have collected. I may be holding on to them because when we were children it was the only time when we actually knew what we wanted (chocolate and cotton candy, that was) and we knew whom we liked and whom we didn't. I guess it's only as we grow up that we lose this instinctive way of social interaction and making life decisions. We want reasons to justify and a list of the positive and negative aspect to rationalise every plunge we take. It is only our confused adulthood that makes as believe that we didn't know better then. We lose our imagination and faith by assuming we are now far better equipped to make decisions, yet we still hang on to hope (although we might not confess to it).

We mistake hope for faith, when there is a clear difference between them. Faith is to believe that whatever turns out is meant to be, while hope is lingering on one possible outcome. With faith there is no disappointment; with hope there is expectation, and when there is expectation we can't avoid not obsessing. I think I have a fear of leaving my comfort zone, a fear of regretting my decision, and a fear of being disappointed. But on the bright side, aren't the reasons for disappointment always trivial?

De-cluttering my room has allowed me to read pieces of my history and reflect on my life. I would like to think it is a political process of moving on, growing up. Now all those pieces are in the bin. I cleared space to allow the positive energy to flow back into my space; I want to believe in energy like I want to have faith in signs. But on another note, I have a whole life ahead of me to accumulate more stuff, and maybe some day I will de-clutter extensively again and reflect again.

But don't most of us prefer to stay in the comfort zone? @Email:hissa.aldhaheri@gmail.com