The abstract and liquid definitions of sentiment make writing on this topic difficult. One concept of “sentiment” is a “general feeling or opinion,” but on the other end of the spectrum sentiment can be deeply personal and emocional—like a childhood toy or a beloved heirloom. In this post I will be discussing the more intimate definition of sentiment.
While cleaning my closet this past week I was confronted by the dilema of choosing clothes to keep. The typical culprit of this conflict were my shirts. Many looked perfectly fine but I wouldn’t be able to tell you when the last time they felt the glorious embrace of the warm California daylight. It felt wrong to keep them when they could’ve been worn by a Goodwill customer.
After completing the purge, I inspected the casualties: T-shirts from my grandmother that never stood a chance, a tangle of belts from Little League, and (what I considered to be the most tragic) the fallen heroes of war—the clothes I held onto for as long as possible but no longer offered me any use. This reminds me of one of the first scenes from Toy Story 3. In the clip, Andy chooses to bring his favorite childhood toy, Woody, to college while packing the rest to be put in the attic. Just like Andy, I designated worth to each of my belongings; deciding that some were more valuable than others. While it my be true that some things will prove to more practical than others, I question the driving factors upon which we measure the value of our belongings. Memories? Price? Utility?
Also in the past week, my best friend moved from his childhood home, which was only eight houses away from my own, current home, to a much nicer and more expensive house in Costa Mesa. Due to this relocation he also transferred from Fountain Valley High School to Newport Harbor High School. Spencer, my friend, abandoned his friends, memories, and life. He did this with no dismay. He didn’t anticipate the daunting path that lay before him. Spencer knew only one thing: new, better stuff. This has been his ideology for most of his life that I have observed. Maybe it’s because he has been spoiled his entire life but he can’t comprehend the attachment to possessions that most people share. As I sit here typing, I contemplate whether he is immune to or has grown past sentiment.
Witnessed in the embedded video of Andy, the mother is the one who asked him to deem his toys as worthy or unworthy. I argue that the deterioration of sentiment comes with age. Adults have undeniably experienced more and have therefore had more possessions than a child. I liken this to how a child will often have a favorite blanket while most adults will use whatever will keep them comfortable because they understand that the blanket only serves as a tool not a companion. Spencer has grown more than most. He is not the most intelligent or emotionally developed, bu has been through a series of traumatic events that certainly justify his acceptance of the new and improved. As a child he dealt with a devastating divorce and his mother was later diagnosed with colon cancer. She managed to win the first battle but her luck was short-lived because after some time she was ill again and has now become terminal while the cancer attempts to attack the rest of her body. (The aforementioned details of Spencer’s life were not meant to make you pity and have compassion for my friend, but rather to understand why he is the way he is.)
Considering Spencer and his capability to mover forward , I ponder whether my own sentiment has become an affliction that hinders my growth as a person or a helping hand that has defined my personality and guides me. In the final bit of this post I seek to find out whether or not I find sentiment “worth it” and what has and will it do for me.
To answer my speculation I think of my oldest brother after he broke up with his girlfriend of many years. I won’t dive into the details of their situation leading up to the event, only the fallout of it. I remember that my brother described his emotions as a song by his favorite band, A Day To Remember (check them out). The song it titled I’m Already Gone and is about finding oneself after a breakup. It concludes that there were new frontiers to discover and it rendered him more prepared for what’s to come. Another song that relates to my question is on the same album and is called City of Ocala. This song tells us that our experiences and and memories define us as the people we were and will become.
My final conclusion is that, yes, sentiments are invaluable; they define who we are as people, but just as Andy moved forward by giving his toys away to another child, I should learn to let go. This will allow me to continue to grow as a person by adding new depth and experience to my character and progress through life.