I was recently gifted a new outdoor patio set. Tearing through the box to reveal its contents – 2 sling chairs and a table – I was elated as my bare deck had gone unused for some time. I dreamt about the day I’d be able to sit on it to enjoy the sunrise, sip my morning tea, read and write, play with my dog, or simply take in the views below. This previously unoccupied space was often just a reminder of what I longed for but didn’t have, filling me with both gratitude for its potential and sadness at its lack of use each time I looked out my window.
The gift I received is all the more significant as being outdoors is one of the few ways we can physically connect with the world around us right now. The echoes of how medicinal a leisurely walk or bike ride can continue to grow louder as springtime gently shows us that we still have reasons to be grateful.
I’m reminded that everything we own, whether we’ve had it for 5 minutes or 5 years, was once new. Even if the object itself was a hand-me-down, it was new to us. The clothes we wear, the dishes we use, the gadgets we rely on were all once treated with the enthusiasm, care, approval, and admiration we reserve for items during the earliest phase of their lifespan.
I recognize that the burst of excitement I feel every time I glance at my weeks-old outdoor set will eventually fade. I’m aware that the thrill I get from using it might wear off. I’m certain that one day it will no longer feel new, but old, and I’ll forget how long I’d gone without it.
I hope this day doesn’t come soon. I hope that when I’ve used it dozens of times and it blends into my surroundings that I’ll remember how much joy I felt the day I opened it. I hope each time I sit down in one of the soft chairs with a new book or a cup of tea, I can find a moment to cherish my experience. I hope that when I feel the familiar ache to upgrade to something even better, I’ll pause to consider what I might actually be seeking.
Lately, I’ve been trying to see my possessions with fresh eyes. Each time I use something – a familiar mug, a weathered blanket, a favorite candle – I reflect on its origin story, recalling the faces and places to which it’s tied. I remind myself of its importance in my life and the need or desire it fills.
During this time, many of us are reconnecting with once discarded hobbies, old friends, and long-forgotten rituals. We’re discovering that it doesn’t matter when they first entered our life as the value they bring to it cannot be counted in days, weeks, months, or years.
The same is true for many of the items that fill our homes. Our living rooms can still be the heart of our homes regardless of how old our couches and coffee tables are. Our kitchens can still be where we share homecooked meals and good conversation over mismatched dishes and fading placemats. Our family rooms can still be a gathering space for game nights no matter the size of our televisions or number of new books on our shelves.
It’s tempting as we reevaluate our priorities and give in to the slower nature of our pandemic-ridden days to want to refresh our surroundings – a new set of speakers here, a wall hanging there – but before you give in to the impulse to purchase, be mindful of the joy to be obtained from what you already have.
Look at your belongings with the same appreciation as you did when they first came into your possession. Immerse yourself in the memories they store and the ones yet to be made. When you use them, imagine it’s the first time you’re doing so and let yourself marvel at the ways they make your life more simple, rich, and meaningful. Don’t let the promise of the new diminish the value of the old.
About the Author: Emily Rose Barr, of A Soul Awake, is a lighthearted creative who pauses to take note… of laughter, color, conversation, open doors, and finer details. She currently writes for DailyGood, Baltimore STYLE Magazine, and No Sidebar.