Over the past two weekends, my spouse and I have been engaging in the semi-regular act of sorting through, and divestment of, stuff. Ever since we first merged households several years ago, we’ve been slowly picking away at all of the odds and ends that we brought with us.
Some of these things are items you only need once in a while. Items such as extension cords, holiday decorations, turkey pan. Things probably worth keeping.
Some of these things, we keep around “in case we need it”. Not a bad idea, in moderation. Case in point, I originally had three 10 gallon containers full of various computer cables. Power cables, USB cables, monitor cables (VGA, DVI, HDMI, S-Video!), network cables, serial cables, you name it. Sure, some of these might come in handy, but at one point I had over 20 power cables. What are the chances that I’ll need all 20 cables at the same time? Probably not large. And who still uses S-Video? Needless to say, I was able to pare my “collection” back to two containers a couple of years ago. This year I was able to pare myself back to only 1.
My spouse, who is infinitely wiser and smarter than I’ll ever be, made the observation that some of the stuff we drag around through the years and through the moves, doesn’t really belong to us anymore. It belongs to a previous version of ourselves. We keep it around because we like that person and the memories we created as that person. But we aren’t that person anymore, and so we tote these things in move after move, but never quite find the time to use them.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it is very important to keep mementos of the time we spend in this world. I’m not talking about mementos, though even mementos need to be kept in moderation.
Take, for instance, the Gameboy Advance SP that I’ve had for years. Growing up, I’ve always considered myself a gamer (in the traditional sense of the word). To this day, it is still a big part of the bonding experience between my siblings and I. When I bought the thing, I also picked up several re-releases of some of my favorite games. And in the years since I bought it, I’ve played the thing, oh, maybe 5 times? And hardly for more than half an hour. The exception this one time I was traveling for business. Between the layovers and the idle hours in the hotel, I made it about half way through Link to the Past. But otherwise, hardly I touch it.
You see, games just aren’t a big part of my life anymore. I still enjoy them. I still spend money on them. Occasionally. Very Occasionally. I’m just not that person anymore. That kid glued to the TV with the NES controller in a death grip. It took me a while to come to terms with this. It can be really difficult to let go of an identity that no longer fits us. We carry it with us because we’re too scared to let go of the happiness tied up with that identity.
It is actually quite therapeutic, winnowing our things. We don’t realize just how much all that stuff actually weighs on us until we let it go. Maybe part of it is that in the act of giving up the physical item we make peace with all of the emotional baggage, too. I dunno. Not my area of expertise.
So, all told, we probably took 4-5 car loads to Goodwill and the ReStore. And I feel that much lighter.