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Minimalist Mementos: Letting Go

May 1, 2017
Minimalist Mementos: Letting Go | Tiny Ambitions

Everyone has mementos that they treasure dearly. It could be a book their parents used to read to them when they were children, or their child’s first soother, or a piece of jewelry that was a gift from a now passed loved one.

Even though I am a self-proclaimed minimalist, I have mementos too. One memento I didn’t realize the significance of until recently was a pair of foldable sewing scissors.

I’ve had these scissors for years and never really thought of them as anything more than a very useful tool that added value to my life. This changed when I was at a conference for work a couple of weeks ago and lost them.

When I realized I had lost them, I felt sick to my stomach – which was an unusual reaction. I’m not really attached to many of my belongings. I can’t even remember 90% of the things I’ve minimized (sold, donated, recycled) from my life.

When I thought about it, it became very obvious why these scissors were important to me.

These tiny silver sewing scissors meant so much to me because my grandmother gave them to me. My grandmother taught me how to sew and how to quilt. I have many a fond memory of us huddled around a Singer sewing machine, tinkering over a project.

What is ironic about my loss is that I didn’t remember any of this until I had lost the scissors, almost like the scissors themselves had been holding onto the memories for me.

However, what we (I) need to remember about mementos is that they are not the memory itself. The memory will exist whether or not you have the physical object to remind you. I think that’s why I felt so sick when I lost the scissors, I was confusing the scissors with the memories I had consciously or unconsciously attributed to them.

But our memories are not embedded in our things and we shouldn’t pretend like they are. Sure, it’s nice to keep some sentimental items in our lives, but if something ever happens to them, it isn’t the end of the world.

So what am I going to do about my scissors? I could go online and replace them right now. But, like a good minimalist, I am going to wait and see if I can live without them before I pull the trigger!


Do you keep mementos in your minimalist life? Would you be able to live without them if you had to? Let me know in the comments!

Image Credit: Unsplash

  • Jessica Williams May 3, 2017 at 5:39 am

    Brilliant article! As soon as I realised the memory was not in the object, it was so easy to let go. We are definitely wired to keep sentimental stuff.

    • tinyambitions May 3, 2017 at 7:06 am

      It’s kind of a crazy realization right? “You mean my memories don’t only exist in this thing I’m keeping for no other reason?” How liberating! Thanks for reading Jessica.

  • Barb McMahon May 2, 2017 at 8:24 am

    “The memory will exist whether or not you have the physical object to remind you.” So important to remember. And such a beautiful memory of time with your grandmother that you can now take with you wherever you go.

    • tinyambitions May 2, 2017 at 8:28 am

      I completely agree! I think our brains are wired to think we must have an item in our possession in order for the memory to remain, but that isn’t the case! Thanks for reading Barb.

    Hey! I'm Britt. I write about living a tiny, simple, intentional life. Because life doesn't need to be lived big.

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