Some people are more sentimental than others. Some people are very critical about what they keep around, only hanging onto the valuables or possessions that they treasure the most. Other people - like my younger brother - tend to be pack rats, seeing the value in every single item they contemplate getting rid of. While I was cleaning out my room this past week, I created another type of hoarder and a category that I fit right into: dragons.
I am a dragon. I figured this out while pulling every item out of my very small bedroom so that I could do a deep clean, something I haven’t really done since I moved into that room. Anyone that has seen my bedroom can attest to the fact that it is very small. I don’t mean small as in “It’s only eight feet across” small. I mean small as in “I cannot stand up in my own bedroom” small.
It was originally supposed to be a little storage nook, but I moved in there many, many years ago so that I could have my own space to sleep in. It was something my older sister attempted a little while before I did, so my parents weren’t all that surprised when I said I wanted to move out of the room I shared with my younger sister and try sleeping in the tiny room. I think my parents expected I would give up and move out within a few weeks, but weeks turned to months, and months to years, and I’m still there now.
And when I say I haven’t really cleaned it out since I moved in, I mean it. I had a pile of stuffed animals I had dragged in there with me, along with my notebooks and all the little trinkets I could stuff in the corners. I occasionally vacuumed the floor that I could reach at the request of my mother, but not much more than that. So, this “pre-spring cleaning” was sorely needed.
I knew it would take a while, but I don’t think I quite expected it to take as long as it did. The problem was every time I came across something that I’d forgotten about, I had to sit and reminisce. I found notes I’d written in first grade, tiny stuffed animals crammed into crannies, and little egg-shaped gems we bought at a rock show years and years ago.
The difference between pack rats and dragons, I have surmised, is that pack rats generally keep things out of necessity. My brother has a tendency to fall into this category. He wonders, “What if? What if I need this years from now? What if I could turn this into something new?”. But a dragon, on the other hand, keeps things because he or she wants to. Because there are so many memories associated with it that he or she wants to keep. Because at one point, it was so important that it was stowed away for safekeeping, and time only makes those things more valuable.
Unfortunately, this means that as a dragon , I also have the tendency to keep everything that I think could have sentimental value later on. I have participation ribbons that I won in swim meets when I was in grade school, little toys that I collected in my preschool years, and even a rock that I found in my neighbor’s yard a long time ago. I keep little notes, receipts and report cards, all because part of me worries that I will regret it if I throw it away. I like being able to look back on little fragments of the past, which makes it difficult to discard anything.
Sometimes, however, it’s okay to go through what we have and decide to lay some of it to rest. Part of what makes saved items special is that there aren’t many of them. I don’t need to keep every note I have from classmates in order to remember a school event. It’s okay for me to look through my notebooks and keep only the ones that mean the most to me. Sometimes, as dragons, we have a tendency to feel like our memories depend solely on the things that we hold onto. But those trinkets only serve as reminders, and they don’t actually affect our memories of the event itself.
I don’t mind being a dragon. It means that I have held onto all kinds of things that were nice to look back on and have made me happy. But I also have to realize that it means I have a tendency to put too much value in everything. Sometimes, it is a good thing to take a step back and realize that I don’t need to keep the receipt I got from a chocolate store in Universal Studios, because I have countless pictures and souvenirs to commemorate that trip. It means that as much as I would love to hold onto the numerous notebooks half-filled with nonsensical scrawlings, it is okay to throw some of them away. We don’t need to hold onto everything from the past in order to remember it.
See you next week!