Do you ever look at the number of photos you have and think, ‘No. That’s ridiculous. It can’t be that many. Why do I have that many? I only want to see that number in my bank account.’
See, I’m a textbook Pisces. Whether that means anything or nothing to you doesn’t really matter – the sign of Pisces is two fish swimming in opposite directions, and that’s pretty much my personality. I can’t make decisions and I never really know what I think or how I feel, because I frequently feel many conflicting things at once.
So – I like things. I like buying things, I like things that are functional and things that just look pretty. If I had the means to furnish and decorate my own home in exactly the way I wanted, I suppose ‘cluttered but organised bohemian’ would be the best way to explain how I would do so. (For example, I saw a royal purple velour lounge suite on clearance at Harvey Norman recently – I gasped when I saw it and said to Jene, “this is my couch!” Despite the fact that even discounted there was no way I could buy it, I kept thinking about it and feeling cranky that it would end up in someone else’s house.)
I derive great joy from material possessions, sure, but I also get it from other things – I’m not completely materialistic.
Even so, I am constantly wrestling with guilt about owning things. I say I like clutter, but more accurately, I like a home to feel full and complete. I like shelves to be heaving under the weight of many beautiful, quirky, meaningful things. I like feeling cosy and surrounded by stuff that I love. I dislike modern design and big, open spaces. I’m not a fan of open plan living. But, I don’t want my home to be stuffed, especially not with junk – I’m a tidy and aesthetically-driven person – and even when I love most things I own, I feel that tug in my stomach that says, ‘do you really need that, though?’ And I mean, this is just one example of the dichotomy of my silly head – I want things but I feel guilty when I have them.
Devin has quite a number of toys now. Most of them are things that Jene and I bought for him, and most of them are toys that I really like. It’s not an absurd amount, far less than many play rooms I see these days, but I’m reaching a point, as I do with any group of items, where the accumulation is making me uncomfortable. I’m becoming more and more aware of my consumption, and feeling bad about it. (Another thing to know about me – guilt is one of my biggest motivators.)
Additionally, a large collection of toys can become detrimental to a child – they don’t learn to fully appreciate and play with what they have, to explore all of the potential. They move from one thing to another because they can, because it’s all there.
And this is where I come back to the photos. I have a lot on my hard drive. No part of Devin’s life up until this point will be a mystery – it’s all documented in those photos.
Obviously the only space they take up is virtual. (Unless you happen to have several full photo albums, too. Ahem.) But I know they’re there. Just sitting there. Gigabytes of information, waiting and waiting… For what? The day that Devin wants to see his baby photos? The day that someone comes over and says, ‘so – fill me in on EVERY MONTH of your life from 2009 until now’? For me to get nostalgic and browse through the archive? I don’t need that many, no, and I don’t know why I keep them all. I don’t want to delete them, but I don’t know how I feel about the constant expansion of that folder.
I guess I am at least partially trying to grapple with the realities of life these days, and that includes things like instant gratification, information overload, rampant and disposable consumerism and incomprehensible amounts of digital data.
And because that sentence was a little heavier than I had hoped for the end of this post, here is a picture of Devin doing his Excited Happy Dance on the slide.