Photo albums and minimalism, can they go together?

My mum is moving house; this means a collection of old memories to sort through. A selection of fragments that make up me – or do they? We are the result of our past experiences, but we also have the ability to let go, change and re-shape our lives.

I haven’t had a hard time getting rid of many things I thought I might – old toys, mementoes, collectable, school work. I’ve not needed them all the time they sat there gathering dust and I understand that, although the experience has gone into making me me, the object itself is not a part of me. Time for them to be let go.

Then my mum comes to visit us in our new flat in Manchester, bearing a box of various things from my old room. Photo albums, scrap books…my immediate thought was “more things for the recycling”. They sit on the side where I left them for weeks. We go away, they remain. We come back and I am always going to get to them later.

My minimalism focus for my Happiness Project comes round and “I will be ruthless” I think. I dislike how much space is given over to nostalgia, and yet I am a sucker for it. I can linger in the shade of old memories for hours. I know this isn’t mindful, or being in the present moment, so I try to do it less. I do do it less.

But these albums…

I open a scrapbook to an innocuous photo of a young me in the garden with a ball – and can feel that ball beneath my hands. I re-live the giddy feeling of skipping round the lounge that Christmas I got my nurse’s dress-up outfit. I can look at my younger self and see myself now. Recall who I was and that I am, ultimately, always me. Sometimes reminding ourselves of the child within us is the best thing we can do.

I don’t know how, or if, this can fit in with a minimalist mindset but I think it’s comforting to travel into our past from time to time. To reminisce; great pleasure can be had browsing a photo album on a rainy Sunday afternoon. And somehow the tangibility of the photo album or scrapbook adds to that pleasure more than an image on a screen ever could.

So the albums are, yes, still there. A lot of the images in them aren’t good, and repeat themselves. Perhaps the thing to do is take a few select favourites from each to add to a scrapbook. Less nostalgic clutter to wade through, whilst still allowing time for a skip down memory lane. Perhaps this is how photo albums and minimalism can go together…


About ecarr

Ellen is a writer and theatre maker who has just taken the freelance plunge after too many years of 9-5 office life. She is a yoga teacher in training and passionate about pursuing your dreams.

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