The author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has great tips on getting rid of clutter, but here’s why I’ll never listen to her advice about organizing photos.
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Wow, so I have been writing a lot about Marie Kondo lately! You would be completely right to assume she is now my personal organizing guru. But there is at least one area where I’d never take her advice: my photographs.
Some of her advice about photographs is difficult to apply in this age of the digital camera and phone. She says to take every photo out of its album and look at each one, one by one. In this way, you can see which photos inspire joy and by following this method you can easily cull a full vacation’s worth of photos down to the five most important.
At this point in my life, I actually don’t have many photo albums. I’ve already scanned most of my pictures and stored them on my hard drive. (But I still didn’t get rid of the originals because they are too precious to me.) However, there are still ways I could follow her advice. Like so many people with a digital camera, I follow the philosophy of “Why take one picture of the castle when you can take ten?” so I have far too many duplicate photos. These photos definitely need culling.
But culling down an entire vacation to the five most important photos? My mind cannot process that. I typically try to prune down each day of a vacation to the five or six best photos and I find even that exercise to be an agonizing Sophie’s choice. Why must remembering our walk through the park mean that we forget our wonderful lunch? My heart breaks when I must choose.
According to Marie Kondo, we must choose, though, because we’re fooling ourselves when we say we’re holding on to photos because we’ll want to look at them again someday. According to Marie Kondo, someday never comes.
Oh, but Marie, that’s where you are so, so wrong. You’re in your thirties so someday may not have come for you yet but it will and when it does you will want your photos. It came for me this summer when a beloved Uncle reached the end of his long, well-lived life and I went through my mother’s photos and my own to refresh my memories of his life and my Mom’s life. It came again when my daughter left for college and I wanted to look back at pictures of her as a baby to remind myself that the tall beautiful young woman leaving my home had once been my little girl. Someday will come again when I won’t remember a treasured memory and looking back through my photos will remind me and help me to relive it all over again.
Someday comes. It always comes. And when it does, I’ll want my pictures with me. So, yes, I’ll go through my photos. I’ll get rid of the nine pictures of the castle. But I’ll keep the 10th. And I’ll label it and put a date on it. Someday.