Remember the story of Diogenes and his begging bowl? The bowl was the philosopher's only possession that he used to hold the food he begged. One day he tripped and fell and broke the bowl and said, "At last! I'm free!"
Well, that's how I feel when I toss something I've hung onto for too long, and I wonder why it took me so long. Last week I finally threw out all the negatives of all the pictures I ever took from the very first days when I had a little Kodak box camera, my best camera. Just aiming and clicking, I took the best (black & white) photograph of Lake Louise that my brother, an amateur photographer, ever saw. I stuck it in a frame and hung it over my bed table and Jack used to come into my room and look at the picture and shake his head and say, "You couldn't do it again." He was right, of course. I didn't. I won't go into a history of my cameras now. You can fill in the blanks with your own stories, beginning with the little Brownie, if you're old enough, and ending with the Polaroid, may they all rest in landfill.
I tossed all my cameras long ago with the first of my big down-sizing moves after my husband died, and I culled the accumulation of mementoes and photographs. I had very few pictures, actually, and very few albums. I've always collected notes and letters rather than pictures; words meant more to me than images, that is, sentimental or significant words. When the University of Manitoba committed to take my files for the archives, they didn't realize what they were getting into. If I'm ever really famous, they'll have a goldmine - like the Hemingway treasure trove. In the meantime, the archives give me a place to send my detritus. Except those negatives. They had to go. And I don't have any bullfight tickets.
I did have, however, a bulging file of my dog Tag's life, his medical records and licenses and so on. He survived a bite from a Massassauga rattle snake and I have the bills to prove it. So here's a switch for me: I just tossed his files and kept his pictures.