We conceive…a sort of gratitude for those inanimated objects, which have been the causes of great or frequent pleasure to us. The sailor, who, as soon as he got ashore, should mend [build] his fire with the plank upon which he had just escaped from a shipwreck, would seem to be guilty of an unnatural action. We should expect that he would rather preserve it with care and affection, as a monument that was, in some measure, dear to him.
–Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments
I love this passage, but the old-fashioned language may make it difficult to understand Smith’s point: when some object has done us great service, we’re reluctant to get rid of it.
Do you feel this way? I sure do.
For instance, as I write about in Happier at Home, I found it hard to say good-bye to my old laptops. We’d been through so much together! They’d worked so hard for me, we’d had so many good times together! But the old laptops were starting to take up a lot of space. I took a photograph of them, as a memento, and then sent them on their way.
On my Facebook Live video yesterday, we talked about the issue of managing mementos. Viewers suggested a lot of great hacks.
Mementos serve as important reminders of the people, places, and activities we love, and dear objects make our homes feel more homey. As long as they don’t get too overwhelming!