Sunday, June 17, 2012

The most valuable things we own...

It is interesting to find out, when one intends to save less than 10% of everything that has been accumulated during a lifetime, what is determined to be valuable.  As we began the purge more than 2 years ago, we realized that even the things we had kept since we were three years old were no longer a part of our identity.  We also found, to our horror, that we had accumulated more than we would ever have guessed.  We set about trying to respectfully depart with our physical possessions through gifting, garage sales, and donations to non-profits or resale shops.

How does one get to the point that he or she is donating 2 large garbage bags of t-shirts to an organization that sends them to people suffering from natural disasters?  Who needs over 2 dozen screwdrivers, 2 table saws, or 3 dozen coats?  We never really thought of ourselves as accumulators; however, as each cupboard and closet yielded things we had not used much in the past decade, we could not help but wonder at the economic, environmental, and social cost of each item.

So what did we save?  We digitized our music, our slides, and our photos.  We took pictures of many things we valued rather than holding on to the items.  We scanned letters, documents, and recipes.  But there were things that we were not ready to let go.

My (Jess) earliest memories of my grandmother include her winding her gold watch every night while listening to my school stories as I shoved homemade cookies down with gulps of freshly squeezed orange juice she had made for me.  When I touch the broken watch with the gold plated tarnish fading away, I am transported to a time of fishing, laughing, cooking, and loving.  My grandparents lived next door to us in California since I was 7 and their wisdom, humor and perspectives on life influenced an entire generation of grandkids.  When grandma passed, my mom said she had wanted me to have her gold watch.  It did not take long in the flooded savannahs of Venezuela for it to break over two decades ago.  I had been foolish to wear it there, but I wanted my grandmother with me.

Recently, I tried once again to get it repaired and the kind watchmaker suggested that I check the internet to see if the company that made it had a repair depot.  They did not, but in the search for the repair depot, I found links to Ebay.  Curiously, knowing the watch was over 50 years old, I clicked on links of people trying to sell their watches.  On average, it was worth about $13.97.

As we each pondered what was of importance to us to save or store, we realized it had little to do with monetary value, but everything to do with the people we loved.

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