Libraries and Museums

January 19, 2008

There is a phrase that I repeat to myself when I am about to open a box of “memory clutter”. Stuff like photos, souvenirs, and collected things that remind me of an experience. I say, “I am not a librarian. I am not a museum curator.

My book collection was treated like a library of valuable information that I was responsible for maintaining, so it would be available to myself, friends, and even future generations of people. Maybe I got this idea from advertisements in survivalist publications. The idea that if some large-scale disaster happens, I wouldn’t be able to find new information, so life-saving books should be collected right now and stored away so they can be brought out after the apocalypse. When I go through my books, I need to keep in mind that I should only keep the ones that I want, not the ones I have because I feel responsible for them.

Same thing with memory clutter. I should not be responsible for creating a museum of my life experiences in little mementos packed away in boxes. I probably won’t become a famous historical figure whose life needs to be examined in detail. And if I do become famous, it won’t be my job to collect artifacts and maintain a museum – it’ll be someone else’s job.

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