I am declaring upfront that I am a keeper. I keep a lot of my old stuff. Knick-knacks, souvenirs, handwritten letters, postcards, books and of course photographs. These things are kept because they all have some form of memory or history attached. But you cannot call yourself a true keeper until you keep other items as well. Things that are outdated and in most cases, practically useless. Under this group of stuff, I have in my possession old receipts, credit card statements, ATM slips, my university lecture notes, shoes, spectacles and my box of LP records bought when I was still a student. Crazy, huh? I mean, who listens to music played from vinyl albums nowadays? Firstly, you'd have to look for a turntable to play it. Secondly, the sound quality is not as good as the widely available CDs. Even if you crave to listen to music from the '70s and '80s, much of them are available today in MP3 form and downloadable from the internet.
Just to let you know, I still have my first turntable. It no longer works, of course... and sits there in one corner of my store gathering dust. Why haven't I thrown it away? Why do I still keep receipts of items I bought many years ago? What use can I have of those old round-shaped John Lennon type of spectacles which I thought looked cool when I was in my twenties? Why do I hang on to a bunch of keys that open doors or locks that I do not know of anymore?
I really can't give you a simple answer... but if you put a gun to my head, I'd say,"It's in the genes..." It is not that I don't throw stuff away. I do carry out spring cleaning every few years (the `few' here is very subjective) but when carrying out such tasks, I end up flipping and reading up old items and re-living the memories attached to them. Like for example, when I wanted to dispose off large files of my lecture notes... I flipped through one of the folders and found an old assignment paper regarding construction law. I re-read what I wrote nearly 30 years ago and felt a certain kind of warmth. It brought to mind the time I spent reading up on the subject and the effort in writing that paper. After finish re-reading it, I decided to keep my notes for a while longer.
Envelope containing handwritten letter from Japanese friend Akemi Koga. The letter is dated 12 April 1992 and she wrote the first two paragraphs in Bahasa Melayu. How can I throw away such a lovely item like this?
|British Railcard from student days|
My mother is also a keeper (did I not say earlier that it is in the genes?), even more hardcore than me. When we were renovating our house many years ago, she instructed that a separate shed be built at the back to be used as a store. Half of the stuff in that store today belongs to her. You can probably guess what some of these things are... plates, bowls and cups. Pieces of china from the '60s era.
My youngest sister, on the other hand, is a thrower. She doesn't like to keep too many old things. When she moved to a new house, she bought mostly new furniture and disposed off the old ones. When her hobby of keeping aquarium fish waned, she wanted to get rid of the lovely wrought-iron tank stand. Guess who offered to take the thing off her hands?
My habit of keeping stuff is still not that serious... not reaching the stage of being a hoarder yet. But I seriously need to get rid off a lot of objects in my store because it is too crammed now. Throw away a lot of the old junk... so that I can create some space for newer junk...