Why do we hold on to these trivial trinkets? These sacred artefacts; mementos and keepsakes; souvenirs from distant lands and half-remembered times. A lobster’s tail, a bird’s skull, a spinning top. A place, a time, a feeling.

Is it simply a way to catalogue our experiences? An index of items, cross referenced with our life. Tiny treasures giving tangibility to our stories, reminding us it was real, that we did that.

Or are they a form of expression? Like the clothes we wear — our personalities projected through objects, our passions plasticised into beacons of individuality; mini-monuments for what we hope was a full life; aspirational markers to imply an interesting existence.

We all are curators of our past. Gardeners in the meadow of our memory; nurturing, pruning, weeding. But how do we choose what to maintain? How do we weigh the memories in our mind? And how do we determine what best preserves them?

Is it something we see in a gift shop? Or find along the roadside? Or it mightn’t be a choice at all — a long forgotten scrap we didn’t think to discard, that one day reappears, sparking something within us.
Is the connection instant, or something that develops over time? A link that evolves into a complex bond, so that when we hold it, as well as remembering how and where we found it, we remember ourselves — how we used to be.

As time passes does it become more precious? A priceless reminder of who we are, and who we were, all at once? Or maybe its meaning is diluted by age, dulled into a hazy suggestion of simpler times, like a familiar song playing low in the background.

Just as they are a means of remembering, are they a way to be remembered? A way to project ourselves into the future, reincarnated in the sparked memories of others. Do we imagine our ancestors holding them hundreds of years from now? Or see them displayed in a museum? Or maybe they’ll be scattered along the roadside, waiting for someone else to pick them up.

Cherished relics; honored heirlooms; junk. Regardless of what they are, or where we find them, these things, like all things, are more than just things. They are the things we decide them to be. The things we choose to define us. They’re the things we keep near and the things we hold dear.

These are the things my parents own.