Today’s Treasure Is Tomorrow’s Trash

Your current tools won’t fix your future problems.

Brandon Sarmiento
Sep 1, 2020 · 6 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Steve Long on Unsplash

Life is ever-changing.

Where we were 10 years ago is different from where we are now.
Where we are in the present will be different 10 years from now.

We go through life in seasons, with each wearing a unique set of challenges from the last — similar to how snowy winters call for thick coats and warm mittens, while bright summers invite flip flops and tank tops.

When we travel through our life’s journey, each season we encounter will ask us for different needs, for the new challenges that lay ahead as we progress towards our destination.

In elementary school, our younger-selves needed colored pencils and crayons to express our limitless creativity that radiates from the youthful mind.

In college, our almost adult-selves needed G-2 pens, highlighters, a laptop, and several cups of coffee to study for midterms while writing out 5-page essays on books we didn’t read.

Whichever season of life we are in our journey, our needs will change along with the path to our destination.

If I was living in New York and decided to move to California, I wouldn’t need to hold onto all of my bulky winter coats when snow and freezing temps are pretty much non-existent in Cali.

It‘s problematic to keep hold onto things — especially of non-sentimental value — from a past stage of our life’s journey as it can turn into a futile object living rent-free in our mental and physical space.

Temporary Fixes, Not Permanent Solutions

“Our vision has eerily gotten blinder from the sad reality of our possessions. Rather than letting go of what once helped us, we prefer to hold on to what now controls us.”

Think about your most recent online purchase. Perhaps it was a mask from Amazon, an overpriced textbook from the school bookstore, or some kicks from Nike.

Whatever you bought, you clicked order because you anticipate that the item‘s value will benefit you more than holding onto the dollars it took to press purchase.

Maybe that value fulfills a need:
“I need a mask because I care about preventing a virus from spreading and so I won’t get kicked out of Walmart for being a dummy.”

Or maybe it satisfies a want:
“I want these sneakers because they’re limited edition, although I’ll probably wear them once or twice.”

Regardless of their value, these things — in the short-term — serve as tools for constructing a bridge over the walls that separate where we are from where we want or need to be.

However, our tools are short-term fixes to our problems, not permanent solutions — hence, our possessions should be too as the seasons we go through won’t last forever.

  • We won’t be a college student forever, so why hold onto all of those old papers, dusty textbooks, and nearly-filled notebooks?
  • We won’t be interested in the posts of someone we followed on social media a couple of years ago, so why continue to follow them?
  • We won’t be the parent of a little kid forever, so why hold onto all of their old toys just sitting in a box?
  • We won’t be wearing the same clothes we wore a decade ago, so why hold onto those old shirts that either don’t fit our body or style anymore?

When we let these temporary tools, which were once helpful, burden our physical and mental space — then life can become an uphill battle if we fail to let go of the things that no longer help us towards our destination.

In other words, these tools will eventually rust as these items begin to collect dust. The value of what we buy won’t last forever, so the ability to recognize and let go will free us from the unnecessary weight holding us back from progressing into the next stage of our life.

When Our Tools Begin to Rust

“Have intentionality when clicking purchase, but have the intuition and courage to delete when needed.”

Last semester I took a statistics class, in which I had to rent out a textbook so that I can study and do the homework. But like any college class, I knew that when it was over I wouldn’t need the textbook in the near future. Like, at all.

I can assure you that I wasn’t going to look back 5 years from taking that class and spontaneously wonder, “Hmm, how do I find the P-Value in a One-Way Analysis of Variance? I better refer back to my stats textbook!”

Nope, I’m 100% sure that ain’t happening.

Nevertheless, one important skill that we all ought to teach ourselves is the ability discern between what we need to keep versus get rid of.

Especially in a world where the “More=Better” narrative is subconsciously promoted through advertisements and peer pressure, our vision has eerily gotten blinder from the sad reality of our possessions. Rather than letting go of what once helped us, we prefer to hold on to what now controls us.

If you don’t believe me, look in you or your neighbor’s garage.

By all means, use your garage for what you want, but it’d be naive of me to say that everyone uses their garage to park their car(s).

Based on my walks around the neighborhood to anecdotal stories online to the Hoarders TV show, the garage has become the sacred place of storing junk.

While not everyone has a legit hoarding disorder, a lot of us have gone to topple box after box full of things we don’t even know are filled with anymore because we’ve grown to be content with letting our old belongings collect dust instead of donating them for actual use.

It’s pretty ridiculous, and I can say so from personal experience living in my parent’s house. Our garage isn’t as packed as I’ve seen other garages are — not like that’s any better because trash is still trash — but we have a fair amount of space being taken up by piles of boxes full of I don’t know what.

Not only is it ugly to see stacks of storage containers and boxes fill up half of a room, but it also takes up mental space, which is as detrimental as the physical space it burdens.

At the end of the day, somebody is going to have to face the trouble of getting rid of our trash. It can be us, our kids, our grandkids, but someone down the line is going to have to do it — so it might as well be us who does.

By consciously choosing to keep hold of the possessions that collects dust like it’s a hobby, we’re subconsciously choosing to burden our life’s journey with physical and mental boulders that will be a pain in the ass to push out of our way when they eventually come rolling down our path.

Are You Using It, Or Is It Using You?

If you’re at home, take a step back and pause for a moment.

Look around you.

It could be in your living room, your dresser, your closet, your bathroom, your kitchen, etc.

Is there anything that sticks out like a sore thumb?

Is there anything that you look at and think to yourself,
“Why did I get that in the first place? It’s become a sanctuary for dust bunnies.”

Do these things spruce up your room or life?
Or do they sit on the sidelines and do nothing for you?

We treat our possessions and future purchases as tools that will serve us in some form or fashion. They’re meant to create convenience for problems that won’t last forever, yet they’re subject to inconvenience when we keep them forever.

Have intentionality when clicking purchase, but have the intuition and courage to delete when needed.

ILLUMINATION

We curate outstanding articles from diverse domains and…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store