We are in an era of merchandising. There are hundreds of corporations working overtime to ensure that we have this going on. That, multiplied with the celebratory zeal that comes from having named days, weeks and months for every possible named relationship, dozens of different activities, specific cultures, traditions, religious holidays, and other occasions of celebrating one thing or another, and with each of them taking up very specific colours, objects and rituals coded for it – there is a mind-boggling number of objects and ideas being sold to us every day.
A lot many of these celebrations and the merchandising associated with them are designed for love and lovers, wooing them from the days of initial attraction, or even before that putting up love as something to be desired and to be sought, to every day of the relationship, and even end of relationships. Every possible moment in a relationship seems to have merchandise designed specifically for it, advertised and sold to the masses through every media possible.
Add to that, the very specific merchandise that marks a relationship. These could be small mementoes from the first date, to travel souvenirs, random pieces of paper and objects like movie tickets, a napkin with a scribbled number, hair clips, the toothbrush that they had used after the first sleepover - we can make pretty much anything an object of much meaning and specialness to a relationship. Then there are specially marked days such as birthdays and anniversaries of the first meeting, the first kiss, the first “official” date and so on. Add to that, other gifts given that mark particular occasions – the objects that mark fights, the making up after a fight, cards, stuffed toys and other objects signifying given for forgiveness, for gratitude, or just because one decides to surprise the other.
Thankfully, we don’t have as many printed photos anymore. If we were not living in the cloud so much these days, there would likely be hundreds of printed photos as well. Thanks to the mobile phone camera revolution, we have millions of photos now, but thankfully, very few of them ever get printed anymore. The few that do get printed, are on fridge magnets, coffee mugs, mobile phone covers - and there are plenty of those.
Is it any wonder then that relationships are one of the largest sources of clutter in one’s lives?
As individuals, we seem to accumulate a fair bit of clutter anyway, but the degree of clutter seems to explode into another dimension altogether when there are relationships in the picture. We accumulate boxes and closets full of things, few of them of much everyday value, or even great long-term meaning, but we hoard them, loathe to dispose them off, each object a memory marker of some significant moment of loving and being loved.
It is painful enough to declutter and say bye to objects from relationships that have ended badly, but how about all the personal treasures from joyful relationships, ongoing or otherwise?
Do we let our loves clutter our lives?
As written for The New Indian Express
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.