I have measured out my life with……

ReceiptBlogTheBigForestAt the back of a deep cupboard was a box. Quite how it escaped a couple of house moves and many clear outs I don’t know but we opened it up to find my tax forms and receipts from the early 90’s through to the mid 2000’s. The memories flooded back, visits made, articles written, lectures presented, meals eaten, materials bought. It was a more powerful trigger than photos (I’ll leave Proust out of it on this occasion). The receipts brought back the minutiae which at the time seemed so important but had been forgotten.

In TS Elliot’s The Love Song of Alfred J Purfrock, Mr P has measured out his life with coffee spoons and I decided we measured our life with receipts. Was that trip and the delicious meal really twenty years ago? Even the design of those old carbon credit card copies bought back powerful memories. Life seemed immensely complex in the mid 90’s and skimming through the receipts and the credit card statements they made me  realise it was overcomplicated but rewarding.

So where did this all lead?

To the shredder.

What do you measure your life with? CD’s, photos, letters…coffee spoons?

About TheBigForest

TheBigForest. A silly artist maker creating in felt and paper construction. Like us on Facebook: TheBigForest. Find us at Twitter : twitter/TheBigForestuk


  1. Hi there, glad you stopped by today and liked my blogpost on mighty Miles Mulligan ;-), thank you!
    To answer your question what I measure my life with I must say mainly photos from travels and bits of diaries I write irregularly. Those I usually put in the shredder after some time to “free my mind of the past” and be open to the “now” and the future. As photos nowadays can be stored quite handily on a computer they do not claim any space in a cupboard, although I quite like some of my photoalbums with coloured paper enhancing the colours of some landscape pics…to put them together was like a meditation and made me remember every bit of those wonderful holidays in Italy and Wales and Sweden and Malta and Venezuela etc etc .. I think a selective clutter is quite healthy 😉

  2. ann perrin

    Loved that post, Well done!

  3. Neat post–I can see how powerful those receipts must be! I have a ledger my grandmother kept during the Great Depression, where she accounted for every penny–it’s amazing how it builds an image of a household.

    • Thats interesting. I have seen legder books and also inventories when you go round the big historic houses in the UK. Who would have though that such dry, factual documents would now be such a rich source of social history?

  4. There used to be a bigger paper trail to measure our lives… now it’s Instagram or Pinterest, or Facebook. Let’s not forget our trusty WordPress, if we were ever so inclined to turn it into a Dear Diary of sorts.

    You should have taken all those receipts and done one of those scrapbook things 😉

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