I’m someone who can tend to overbuy/over collect things in order to hold onto experiences or make sure that I remember something. I’m naturally more sensory based (for my Myers Briggs Type, I’m a Sensor), and because of that, having things I can see and touch can seem essential to making memories.
While some of this really is true (for example, when I see my tiny owl statue next to my TV, I smile and remember the trips to Greece that I’ve taken), I have also realized that I don’t need multiple things to remember an experience by.
This point was driven home when I was listening to The Minimalists podcast (I think it was #6 “Tuesdays”); they said “Our memories aren’t in our things. They are in us.” I stopped and listened to it again. Our memories aren’t in our things. Woah. Of course our things don’t completely hold memories.
So I started to wrestle with the balance between what I hold onto and why. What did I need to job my memory and remind me of those happy times, and where did it become excessive.
This quote was in my mind a lot recently when I went back to Mexico. Especially when I travel, I’m tempted to buy a lot of things so I don’t forget. The thing is, though, that over the last year since the first time I went to Mexico, I’ve remembered it a lot, and it’s not because it’s a thing in front of me. I remember it because it was important, because it challenged me, because it’s changing the way I live my life. That memory is stored within me. So as I walked around the markets and small shops throughout the week, I reminded myself “Our memories are within us, not within our things”. I enjoyed looking at the items, taking some mental pictures, enjoying the cultural experience, and then I walked away.
In fact, the only thing I purchased this year in Mexico was a small thing of Mexican candy that I enjoy and a small bag of coffee to bring home and enjoy. in that way, I can enjoy a sensory experience that reminds me of the trip, but then I use it up and it doesn’t take up space for years and years.
And you know what? I am remembering this year’s trip the same way now as if I had purchased several things while there, because my memories are within me.
This feels really difficult for me to embrace at times, but I’m challenging myself and am seeing progress. That’s what matters.