To cull: to choose, select, or pick. Anything picked out and put aside.
Words mean more than things. When my parents died, my siblings shared all their belongings. I only wanted their words. Things mean little to me, but give me letters, articles saved, and stories told. There is a kind of power in words that sticks. It can’t be sold or donated. So, as I cull out my own belongings, I feel a kind of freedom in letting go. Out with all the craft books, I will remember their pages. Words have usurped Kaffe Fassett’s knitting inspiration. Books I’ve read and reread are inside me. I might not remember their names or the names of the authors, but the stories are part of me.
This past year of living with the COVID 19 pandemic, I’ve had time on my hands for this process. I’ve taken the house room by room, culling non-essentials, getting down to the bare bones of each space. Kitchen utensils with years of use are no longer wanted. My family is small now. Clothes that no longer fit, or aren’t comfortable, go in a bag for Goodwill. Favorite shoes that are a bit too high for these old ankles will find life with someone else. Garden tools passed on to a daughter with the hope she will share her produce with us. Fabric pieces saved for years are now out of style or half made into something, but left undone, go into the bag. Perhaps someone else will re-save them.
My guideline for what to keep is if I pick it up to use at least once a week. Well, some things I will use only once a month or once a year, like Christmas cookie stamps. I save some things for my daughters and granddaughter, but I’ve stored them in boxes, so not in my way. However, it is hard to know what they will find useful or even interesting. I have a large box of old newspapers from the 1940 WWII years to the present time. They are newspapers that herald big news such as Mt. St. Helens erupting and elections of presidents. I wonder will my granddaughter find these stories of interest? Will she be interested in how prices have changed? Will the fact that by the time she is an adult there will probably be no newspapers, make these important to her? The news will probably all be online or some facsimile of technology we still don’t even know about yet.
I find I want to cull some memories, too. Why not erase unhappy memories? I’ve journaled my way through the times when they happened, I’ve beaten them to death in a counselor’s office, and I’ve added them into my memoir pieces. I think it is time to jettison them as well. Unlike a computer, I can’t delete them, but I can let them go. Perhaps letting them go might give room for new ideas, words, and thoughts.