Smelly Shoes, a Peruvian Key Fob, and Some Random Pebbles – The Little Things We Value

Hey y’all,

Philip here. I’m moving soon, but I haven’t started packing up yet, because I’m procrastinating. I think if you searched my place, you’d be hard pressed to find an explanation for a lot of the chaotic collection of items littered around the rooms, from the bits of rubber and foam, to the pieces of cutting boards littered around, and a giant pile of insoles. But apart from a bit of trash and clutter, almost every piece in my apartment has some sort of memory attached to it, some story of how it came to be in my life and it has images it brings back to mind when I see it or hold it. Since I’m moving and getting a bit nostalgic, I wanted to ask y’all: What random objects in your life hold some deeper meaning? What are the stories – funny or tragic, uplifting or epic – that are attached to the little items you own? I’ve collected some of the responses and posted them below:

1. Smelly Shoes:

My friend Griselda had some old shoes she’d kept for big goal races. Here’s her explanation about them below:

“I had to say goodbye to all but one of my mementos a few weeks ago. I’m especially proud of these three because they carried me through seasons of change and reflection.”


Shoes always have some sort of story or meaning to them, even if they are stinky! Griselda’s told me some of the stories behind these shoes (especially the story behind her reckless but awesome 50k race!). However, you’ll have to show up to a Dirt Runners run to get the full tale.

2. Peruvian Key Fob:

My friend James showed me a picture of a random key fob with the most epic (and frankly hilarious) tale. I’ve posted both below:

“My first expedition to Peru was incredibly trying in many ways. This is just one example of that. We rented a truck to drive our equipment from Lima to Cusco, where we met up with the rest of our team. We transferred our load to the trucks heading to the field and left our rental truck on the side of a road in Cusco.

 Upon returning to Cusco, we retrieved the rental truck, noticing that it had an elongated dent and scratch down its side. This was a product of someone’s car mirror being drug down the side of the truck… Irritated and already stressed, we loaded the truck. After some time of loading the trucks alarm started going off!

We couldn’t find the truck’s key fob anywhere. I called the rental company and after a bit of back and forth the phone agent told me to cut the wire leading to the horn. I did this and we drove all the way back to Lima with the hazard lights flashing and the alarm technically still going off.

The rental agency was NOT pleased about the cutting of the horn wire NOR the long dent along the side of the truck. A fairly hefty fine was paid for the truck damage. Upon returning to Texas, I was unpacking my bags and what did I find? The key fob hidden in the depths of my backpack! I didn’t know whether to scream, cry, or laugh.”


“Is it not a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt for so small a thing?”
– J.R.R. Tolkien,
(He obviously didn’t predict the malicious harms that would be caused by rental car key fobs!)

3. Random Pebbles:

My friend Kelley has the most simple and seemingly irrelevant example on this list – a jar of pebbles! Here’s her explanation posted below:

I typically come home with a small stone from each race/adventure I complete. I call them “mile”stones!! Get it!?! It always seems an unique colored or shaped stone is waiting for me on the path. I come home and place them in a glass jar I have in the kitchen. Each time I look at the jar it brings back a memory. (Only I know the reason that jar is there. )”


(Little stones have longer histories than any of us!)


Tiny objects can seem immaterial and irrelevant in a world filled with daily struggles and big objects like home mortgages and car payments.


But in fact, the opposite is true. These little knick knacks are a source of comfort and a reminder of happier (or at least more interesting) times when the slog of routine or the stress of daily existence threatens to overtake us. This isn’t a form of materialism or commercialism – none of the objects above have any intrinsic or monetary value (apart from the fines associated with the lost key fob – sorry James!). And long before our communities had fancy cars or big houses, nomadic early humans carried small objects of personal value with them where they went, in the form of beads or other decorative stones. It’s a deeply-rooted behavior that allows parts of ourselves to be extended into the things we carry, and it makes us more human.


What are the little things that you carry? I look forward to your comments below.




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