At the very welcome recommendation of a friend, I reread the second “Lightness and Weight” chapter in Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being on Saturday. Kundera reminded me of the truth of a metaphor Maurice Merleau-Ponty used for how our lives are shaped by remembered and forgotten experiences as we grow older and become who we are: sedimentation. This theme was again powerfully reinforced for me this afternoon when I was helping another friend, who’s moving soon, sort through a box of long unexamined papers, cards, and photos. Topped by a layer of Coles receipts, the rest of the box was a kind of geological record of a decade or more of life. Sedimentation indeed, in the traces we choose to keep, discard and puzzle over of the people we once were, and the people we once knew.
Here’s a question my friend and I were wondering about, and we decided to ask Troppo readers for opinions. What should you do with a love letter from a decade ago from someone whose love you didn’t return? And why should you keep it or throw it away? The letter’s fate will be determined in part by your verdict.