Have I lived well? That’s the question I’m asking myself as I sift through these boxes, dusting off old photographs of people I haven’t seen in years, and birthday cards inscribed with messages, which boldly say we’ll forever be friends. The truth is we’re just not that close anymore.
Did I spend my time the right way? I ponder as I discard old essays which I don’t remember writing, and postcards and trinkets from countries I’m sure I’ve never visited; souvenirs of experiences which have no bearing on my own. I suppose they were once worth keeping but now they will be lining a black bag.
Is this what my life amounts to? I ask as I pull an ancient phone and a physics exercise book out of a warped brown box and I remember the way I flunked that exam. And I recall the fight I had over the phone causing my first relationship to crumble shortly after. A feeling of failure washes over me.
Until I realise this box of junk doesn’t define me. This is not my life anymore, my true memories and trophies are still with me. My spouse who I met years after this box was first sealed, and who now sits next to me. The child running around my feet, who changed the way I see the world.
I pull out a well loved teddy bear from the box, and hand it to my child. Then picking up that box of stuff, I reseal it and mark it ‘junk from another life.’ I place the box next to the black bin bag. I won’t be carrying this around anymore.
Inspired by our recent house move and the weird feelings that can arise when you look through boxes of memories from years ago! We all carry stuff around that we don’t need to – and this is referring to both the physical material stuff and the immaterial baggage, the left-over emotions from a different season in life that when never fully dealt with can somehow follow us into the next. Revisiting old memories can be painful but I wonder if that’s what’s needed to make sure we tackle it head on, rather than bundling it into the loft space and moving it around with us for the rest of our lives.