by Leo Babauta
One of the hardest things about simplifying your possessions is figuring out what to do with the mementos you have from loved ones: photos, notes, letters, cards, little gifts, and more.
It’s hard to let go.
Recently on Twitter someone asked: “Both parents gone. Tried to keep small things, photos – even then it’s alot of stuff. Regret tossing some notes & cards ..help?”
I can’t imagine how hard that would be, losing both parents and trying to hold on to memories of them. So I won’t try to give advice here.
What I can do is say what has worked for me, in allowing myself to let go of possessions but hold on to memories.
Scan. Old photos, letters, cards, notes, report cards, kids’ drawings, awards, etc. All can be scanned and saved into your computer. Use a program such as Evernote to keep them all organized, synced among your computers, and backed up online.
Take pictures. If the object can’t be scanned (a little teddy bear, or a wedding dress), take a digital photo. Keep them all organized via Google’s Picasa photo program — it’ll also store everything online, privately if you want, and you can use it to sync between computers.
Share with others. Give some of the most treasured things to others who will enjoy having them. Allow them to pass them on to other loved ones, etc., so the love and memories can be spread rather than hoarded.
Box things. If you really can’t part with things, even after scanning and taking photos of them, put them in boxes and put them out of sight, in storage, marked with a date that’s 6 months from now. On that date, open the box and realize you didn’t really need the items — and then pass them on or toss them.
Remember what’s important. It’s not the actual, physical objects that matter — these you can learn to let go of, with time. What matters is the memories. If you can hold on to the memories, by looking through scanned letters and photos on your computer from time to time, then you’re good.