It’s 8pm on a Monday night and I am with new clients deciding on which of their existing furnishings they want to use at their new apartment. Their relationships with the items are varied but defined by their emotional connection to each piece. And yet, underlying each is a story, a narrative built on memories of the life they have lived together and apart. I am intrigued by these stories and more so, reminded of the collective narrative told by the things we own, of the life we have lived, live and will live. In a world of individual identity I wonder, what do our furnishings say about us and who we are?
Two antique tables are a point of discussion, mainly because of differing associations to the items. They look fragile and reminiscent of furnishings you would find in an old home from the early 1900s. They were once in the home of the wife’s grandmother and when she speaks of them, she speaks of a connection to her past and a connection that she’d like to carry through to her future.
I understand that connection; I live that connection. I grew up in my grandmother’s house, a house characterized by her special touch – from the mid-century chairs in the living room, to the faux flowers in the overly embellished vase in the corner of the living room, to the china cabinet set to the right of the room, filled with fine dinnerware my grandfather had brought back from his travels around the world.
I remember laying next to my grandmother, head tucked into her arm, staring at a picture of the Taj Mahal that hung in her room, just across from her bed. I imagined myself there, and the feeling of standing in the presence of this great place, engulfed by an overwhelming feeling of love, nestled in the comfort of my grandmother’s embrace.
Moments like these are what lives are built on and are central to sharpening our ability to understand emotion in the things we have in our lives. This is the connection my client felt with her grandmother’s end tables and the emotion of memories, that will become a part of the narrative that she will pass on to her children, and their children.
Our lives are collections of well curated memories, cumulatively creating the narrative to our individual and collective stories. Our ability to be story tellers is steeped in being able to create visual and imaginative constructs; backdrops to each memory. These settings contextualize the memory, provide detail and dimension, allowing us to feel a spectrum of emotions. These differentiated emotions provide a scale of range, allowing us to articulate what and how we’re feeling. We can then better gauge and categorize each memory to reference at different points in time when we need to draw on an emotion and place in time.
What we choose to include in our lives, to use as the backdrop to our memories, is essential to being empowered to construct every memory as we wish to remember it. Being an active participant and life stager allows us to create the types of memories we would like to remember and draw on in times of need.
“When all else is gone and we have nothing else to draw on for strength and positive reinforcement, great memories can be a resource of emotional fuel.”
Understanding your connection to the things in and around your life is to speak the language of emotion and to translate it into your space. Find your voice, within a life designed, one room at a time…