The Importance of the Impractical

After the initial surge of selling, recycling or tossing the junk you have amassed, then the harder decisions come. The pace slows. The heart races.

If you are to completely embrace the minimalist mantra of decluttering, you will eventually run head-on to the thing, that one thing, that makes you catch your breath. The cult-like followers of minimalism will tell you, “It’s only stuff! Material items don’t matter!” The Hezbollah-like factions will even say you can rid yourself of photographs. Just scan them to the cloud.

I am here to disagree. Some things can connect us to times past, to moments experienced and to people gone. Even Marie Kondo, that Messiah-like figure of the declutter movement, says you should surround yourself with things that spark joy.

And so, the cape.

When I was in first grade, I was the “baby queen” in the Portuguese Holy Ghost festivals and parades. It was a proud time for my mom, who spend way more than she should have to have a custom-designed white velvet cape made for me. My mother lovingly stored that cape in the closet until her death in 2013. It’s yellowed, but still nearly pristine.

Now I have it. It serves no practical purpose, and…

I love it,  and I’m keeping this thing that holds me close to that time in my life, to my heritage, to my mother. It may be not useful, but it is beautiful and it is meaningful.

In the frenzy of decluttering and making space, it is important to pause and consider the impractical. Keep the thing that is irreplaceable or that transports you to a time like few other things do.

Oh, and I’m keeping the tiara, too.

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. –William Morris

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