Objects have a way of anchoring us – to a moment or a person in our past, or to an imagined self, a person you once were or wanted to be. A beaten-up jacket with two missing buttons. A concert ticket to Radiohead. A flip phone that doesn’t power on anymore.
It’s also how we end up with three pairs of shoes we’ve worn once, jorts that still don’t fit because we bought them when baggy was cool, and two dozen CD cases from bands we listened to between 1997 and 1999. Not the CDs, which have vanished. Just the cases.
It’s hard to get rid of any crap with even the slightest psychic residue on it. And the longer we wait, the more powerful the attachment gets. As in, we’re not sure how we ended up with two copies of Austin Power: The Spy Who Shagged Me on DVD, but at this point they both have to be collectors items, right?
The problem is that there is no way for us to commemorate our things while properly sending them off into the great beyond.
What we need is funerals for things.
You invite your friends and family – all the people that knew that FUBU sweatshirt and Kangol hat combination, and all the well-wishers that just want to support you through this tough time. The mourners line up to take a look at the items, now folded on the table, looking a little less wrinkled than they did when you wore them. We take turns remembering the good times: how you slept in that sweatshirt during your first week in college because you didn’t realize how cold California nights were, how you danced all night in that hat and grossed yourself out with how sweaty it still was in the morning.
We then play track 3 of off Matchbox 20s debut album, and everybody cries.
And since funerals for objects have their own set of customs, the funerary ice cream cake is served.
We need this.
When we let go, we give ourselves the space to become our next and strongest self. Else, the ghosts of our past will drown us at the bottom of a sea of barely-remembered nostalgia.