On Purging the Replaceable

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by Rasmus Rasmussen on January 3, 2011

The following post marks the beginning of a new year for Another Passion. It also happens to be about a new beginning of sorts and even has what you might call a new years resolution in the last paragraph. But first a jump back to spring 2005, when I went to the US to participate in a photography workshop. The plan was to stay for a week, drop down to California for another two weeks, then head home to Copenhagen, Denmark. What I did not anticipate was finding love and deciding to stay and take a chance on it. As it turned out, more than half a decade went by before I finally went back to Denmark in late 2010. This time to go through all the stuff I had left behind and prepare to sell or scrap anything not worth transporting across the globe, to my new home in Seattle.

The photo shows my very first guitar, by the way. Not a terribly expensive guitar, but it does have sentimental value.

Walking into my Copenhagen apartment was a very strange experience. I had rented it out for some of the time I was gone, so all my stuff had been packed into one room. It really felt like looking through a dead person’s belongings, only that person was me. Very weird and to be honest, also slightly thrilling. I knew immediately, that most of all the stuff I had accumulated during the first three decades of my life held very little real value to me. That made me feel somehow less burdened by the task ahead; deciding what to keep.

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Old photographs, some saved correspondence (I used to write real letters, if you can believe that) and journals were among the few personal items I saved. Add to that about 300 CDs and about half a dozen smaller works of art that my father made. Everything fit into three cardboard boxes. I kept none of my old clothes, no electronics or old toys (I would’ve kept my Star Wars figures, but someone stole them out of my storage), not even my book collection. The books hurt a bit, I must admit, but I did save 5 or 6 with personal dedications and that sort of thing. The rest was replaceable.

Replaceable was the keyword. If something was replaceable it had to go. I only had to define what that really meant.

Roughly speaking, everything is replaceable but the experience of it. Personal memories and emotional attachment are the things that last. That is what I learned from this little exercise in personal catharsis. Taking that one step further, it seems logical to conclude that those are also values worth pursuing in work. That is a lesson I will try to be more conscious of in the future. If I can provide my clients, readers or partners with emotional involvement and/or gratification, I have transcended being replaceable. What about you? Are you ready to get chucked or have you left a lasting impression yet?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

myron January 3, 2011 at 1:22 pm

man, I know the feeling but twisted the other way around. I am going through the minimizing experience right now, getting rid of, selling, freeing myself of things that bind me to experience more fully a true new beginning. I wish I had three boxes.
When all is said and done, love is the only experience that leads to an honest being, with, for, because and the accumulations in singles ville … are worth the once over and sentiments re-examined for value and gravity. A big pond of separation also dictates certain hardcore decision making necessities that were it not for the watery distance involved would likely linger in a dusty storage unit for later re-evalutations and continued yet vague attachments to something that once was. Stuff are like barnacles and every seaworthy vessel needs a good scrubbing once in a while in dry dock.

I love your story on how you gut stuck on this side of the pond :)

My heart brought me back face to face with my history and a love I could not have imagined, a joy so sweet and a reconnection so emotional that it makes my heart sing. It is a lovely if somewhat unbelievable story … given the time span

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Rasmus Rasmussen January 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm

“love is the only experience that leads to an honest being…”

That is a nice quote, Myron. Thank you for your insight. :)

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Lee Chamberlin January 3, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Well said and so true…

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I am Ivar January 7, 2011 at 4:28 am

Lovely first post of the year Ras.

For me it comes at a very interesting time, I’m about to say goodbye to the cozy and safe world I build around me and moving out into the big unknown for an undefined period of time. So I’ve been wondering about my possessions too…what to bring in a backpack, what to store and what to make other people happy with? Will be an interesting process haha

As for leaving an impression on clients, that’s what I’ve always tried to do. For me a photoshoot can be so much more than just a photoshoot. Why not make it into something that people will remember one day? That all of the sudden during diner 35 years later they get a smile on their face when thinking back to that one day…how nice would that be? Coming up that will be the biggest experience yet is a band photoshoot, with 30ish people all dressed up in the same style of the band/set, that will eventually turn into a small private concert on that same set!!

Same goes for the rest of my life…why not make everything you do a pleasant experience for everyone involved? :)

ciao,
Ivar

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Rasmus Rasmussen January 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Good luck on your big move – it’s gonna be an adventure! :)

Also, I like that idea of imagining your clients 35 years down the line.

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