You are your mementos

By guest blogger, Russell Kelly

Do you keep mementos? They could be old possessions or gifts, boxes,

bits of ribbon, natural things like shells or nuts, feathers, things that were important to your parents that you inherited. Photos are mementoes definitely. Certificates and pieces of ephemera.

For years I kept an old photo of Mt Wellington on my wall in Tintenbar NSW, and a rock from the summit I took on my last day there, vowing to return it.
It’s common to keep mementos. Whenever I move house, I have lots that I can’t leave behind. I’ve paid good money moving sticks and rocks around the country. You can learn a lot about what’s important, by your attachment to mementos.

The word itself is curious, it means more than ‘memory’ and has a connotation of ‘warning’ too.

I can never forget the story of James Smithson who donated his fortune posthumously to found the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. He died a lonely gambler and in his personal effects was found many scientific curiosities including a paper on the contents of a lady’s tear. Why did he keep that? Was it holding him back, or was it giving him life? Mementos are a clue to deep feelings. They have emotional weight. They connect you to the past and other people.

Ask yourself why you keep yours – is it for good reason? They can be an expression of possession and control. Usually the reasons are good, but oddly enough, mementos can be saboteurs of the spirit, that remind not of good times and achievements – but of bad times in life.  I did a clearing exercise a few years back. Picking up each memento in turn, I asked ‘why am I keeping you in my life?’ If the keepsake had any negative connotations whatsoever, I let it go. It is a very therapeutic thing to do.

Try this: if you suspect you’re keeping a memento for the wrong reason, with reverence and best wishes, deliberately let it go. You are held in place by the things you don’t say goodbye to.

The reasons I keep mementos: They inspire me ­– I keep things as a promise to achieve my life’s purpose. While they are with me, their energy is a gift, inspiring me to make my future, and keep living with enthusiasm.


They connect me to a place I love – I have several natural items like rocks and shells that remind me of truly magic natural places I have visited and felt privileged to do so. These keepsakes are life-giving and affirmative of my connection with nature. They remind me to slow down – a couple of items remind me to stop and breathe; when I see them (they are a certain shape that
has a special meaning), I take a breath and remember to count my blessings.

Gifts from special people, defined by love – I keep things that have been given to me that remind me of the love I feel for special people, and their love for me. They’re a promise I will return – sometimes I keep mementos of places that are important to me. I may have been overwhelmed by its natural beauty, or felt a special sense of belonging. Taking a rock or a vial of sand, I’ll take a keepsake with a silent promise to return it some day in the future, if only to believe that one day I’ll return.  I’m sure there are lots more reasons.

Why do you keep mementos?
What do you keep?
How do you keep them?
Can you share your story of the memento you can’t live without?

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