Minimising Objects of Nostalgia

37 items of clothing, 8 pairs of shoes, 3 bags

Have you noticed that there are some days it’s easier to minimise your belongings than others? All this month I am feeling nostalgia and sadness when attempting to let go of certain things. I think when most people start to minimise their belongings, they start with the easy stuff – the things they don’t love or use. But if you are on this journey long enough, you start looking at the purpose of every object in your life, even the ones you love.

One thing that I have been thinking of letting go of is an old soft toy. It was given to me by a former boyfriend on my birthday nearly 17 years ago. I feel no nostalgia for the boyfriend, just the soft toy. It’s a raggedy old ape whose face is tearing apart to reveal its innards. It has been in my life for so long, sitting on my bed, staring at me with its shiny, sad, beady eyes. I’ve formed it into weird poses in times of boredom. Former lovers have made fun of it. I’ve cried into it in hard times.

Strangely, I’m also having trouble letting go of my DVD’s. I have reduced the number of them this year, but what is left are my most favourite films and TV series. Let me make this clear; I do not watch these regularly. In complete honesty, I never watch them. And yet letting go of them is hard somehow. They are just a pile of plastic, but I have this undeniable attachment to them. The only reason I can think of is that I’ve loved most of these films and TV series for years, and as a result I associate them with my very identity.

So what to do in these situations? How do we find a balance between keeping the most precious things and not having too much nostalgia cluttering our lives?

With regards to the ape, his name is Primate and I love him dearly. Even though he has no function, I’m just not ready to let him go. I think maybe he just needs to come out of storage and be a part of my life again. Primate is a keeper, because when I look at him I feel something. Some minimalists might say I should take a picture of him and then set him on fire, or take the Ed Gein approach and chop off his face to make him into a lamp or belt or something. But I want to hold him, I want to touch him, I want to caress his soft form. My love for him is undeniable and he must stay with me.


Primate, how I love thee…


The DVD’s, however… I know my feelings about these are absolutely silly. I can continue to love these films without them sitting on my shelf. I can continue to be ‘me’ without owning the discs that ‘prove’ it. There are definitely digital versions of these films and TV series available, and those do not require any physical space or a dusty DVD player.

My advice is, when you feel a soft spot for an object in your life, really consider what it does for you. Minimalism isn’t a rulebook that defines every single item in our lives. Minimalism is about holding onto the most important things.




  1. Great post. I’d say definitely keep that toy. And as for the dvd’s. … well, I’m just at the beginning of my journey so I still have a LOT of them myself. I understand completely. Gree

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  2. Items with that much emotional value should be kept. My original plan was to scan and then throw away all old photos. There are a few pictures, however, that I can’t bring myself to get rid of. A print from the 1950s of my father as a boy fishing with his grandfather. A photo of myself at 28 years of age when I was still thin but slightly worried looking.

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  3. I’d let go of the DVD’s but keep Primate, as you love him so much. I have to say, I emptied my childhood ‘trunk’ as the last bastion of decluttering this year. In there were toys in there that I’d had as a baby. I looked at them and let them go. It was so much easier than I expected and I still remember them. Remember, your stuff doesn’t define you. Well done for getting this far!

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  4. As my mom began purging, I’d repeatedly remind her to ask, “does this bring me joy?” before tossing something. If the answer is yes, keep it! Minimalism, I think, can be about giving yourself permission to keep the things you truly feel to be a part of your life. It isn’t just about paring down every single thing that doesn’t have a practical daily use (unless that’s your preference).

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  5. I recently got rid of *most* of my DVDs. I allowed myself to keep my favorite films/TV shows even though I hardly, if ever, watch many of them. My reasoning is that sometimes, even if infrequently, I get the urge to watch a favorite movie/show. Sometimes the mood just strikes me to watch “Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona,” or “Love, Actually,” and I like having them always available.

    My personal rule for getting rid of stuff is to evaluate whether it holds meaning, is useful, or brings me joy. The DVDs I’ve kept definitely spark joy! 🙂

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  6. Great post! I struggle with this so much. It can be as silly as a business card saved from a favorite restaurant. My goal for this year is to de-clutter as my husband and I renovate parts of our home. It will be challenging but so worth it in the end!

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  7. Well said! I like remaining flexible as well with “rules”. There are certain things I’ll never get rid of similar to your monkey that hold a great deal of significance to me. Things like the dvds however I usually force myself to get rid of in my monthly purges of clutter.

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  8. One thing I’ve definitely learnt from decluttering is that the reasons we hold on to things definitely aren’t rational. That’s one of the things I like about the KonMari approach to decluttering, it accepts this irrationality (more on that here –
    I agree with what you say about rules, you’ve got to keep in mind that the whole point of minimalism is to get past being hung up on stuff – that includes if you have the “right” type and quantity of stuff from a minimalist point of view. Obsessing over it is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Saying that, viewing your life through a minimalist perspective is challenging and pushes boundaries. You might feel different about your DVDs in a couple of months.

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  9. I need to go through my dvd’s as well. I think I’m going to approach them as I did my books: in waves, culling progressively until I only keep what I truly love, even if I don’t view them regularly. good luck! But keep the ape 🙂 until you are ready.


  10. Sometimes the heart dictates what we do. On a logical level, we don’t really need anything other than the bare essentials to survive, but there are some things that emotionally, we seem to require. A beat-up old teddy bear might be one of them!

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  11. “Minimising things and let go”. Sometimes, one has to let things go because if we hold onto life too tightly, it behaves as sand and each of us know what happens when we hold sand tightly in our hands. And currently, if wish to sustain we need to minimise.

    You are teaching over the 7 billion people on this planet, the concept of minimising and yet enjoying things and being joyous. Great work this of yours. A request from my side to you is, never stop come what may. Who knows who you might inspire one day and that person may go ahead to do a live changing event for all of us here.

    Good luck…My Best

    P.S: Thanks for liking (

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  12. I like the idea of your blog and I enjoyed this post! – I agree that minimalism and getting rid of things should be determined by what they really “say” to you rather than what Minimalism SAYS you should do with them. I also have two old dolls that I’ve hugged almost out of existence, and I love them to bits. I am not getting rid of them any day soon, although I’ve been very attracted lately to the idea of minimalism!

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  13. Late to the party, but wanted to mention that I have a similar schtick with stuffies! Miraculously, I did manage to release my entire initial collection of approximately 60 (!). Since then, I have accumulated two and released one, but it’s still hard for me to think of. I have very, very, very little stuff…but those soft critters, they are something unique in my heart, so my current, giant one stays 🙂 And, knowing this soft spot in me, I aim to bring in no additional ones.

    Liked by 1 person

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