As we have moved from place to place, we have carried a LOT of stuff that we do not really need. With each move, we have done our best to shed the excess. But we have always shed stuff cautiously. We have mostly been in relatively large houses, so we could store what we wanted. And we have never been sure what we might need in the next place we might live.
This time is different. The house we are buying is not small, but it is smaller than our current home. And we are hoping this will be our last move unless/until we have to move into some kind of facility. That means we have to get rid of a fair amount of stuff, and we have no reason to store stuff for our future.
All this has made me realize that I have now entered the stage of life when less is more. No longer can I accumulate things simply for the sake of accumulation. Indeed, going forward, whenever I acquire virtually anything, I will need to dump something else to make space. I gather that a lot of people are in the same position and feel the same way.
My entrance into the shedding stage of life is pushing me to take a critical look at American materialism and consumerism, at our assumption that more is always better, at our need to have the latest gadgets and the best stuff. It is reinforcing in me an ascetic streak, a desire to renounce at least some of my possessions, to lighten my load a little bit.
So, over the last few days, I have been going through my old academic files and even my books to see what I can let go. Some of the decisions have been difficult, even a little painful. But after a massive trip to the dump to recycle mounds of old papers, I mostly feel exhilarated, as if I have been liberated from a burden. Lightening the load really does have its rewards!