I keep “things” for years.
I still have a beer bottle cap that was given special meaning at a college party. I have insurance statements for a car I shed five years ago. I’ve got concert wristbands. Credit card statements. Baseball ticket stubs. Seashells. Grad school loan payment coupon booklets. Postcards. Props from high school plays.
I keep “things” for two reasons:
- “Things” remind me of who I am. When I’m being a chowderhead, I am supposed to look at my “things” and remember myself.
- “Things” protect me from unforseen disaster. Canceled checks from 1999 might satisfy some hard-nosed government investigator who suspects me of general nefariousness. I see him disappointedly surveying a room piled high with the paper version of me; his bloodlust waning, he wipes his brow and says to his team, “looks like he is who he says he is.” Reluctantly they untie me and release my family.
You never know when I might want to crack open the birthday card my roommate handed me when I turned 21. And what if the IRS wants the server financials I printed at the end of every shift six years ago while waiting tables?
Truth be told, I never look at what I’ve collected. My “things” sit neglected in clear, plastic crates in the back room.
Last week I read a book which prompted me to find a place for all my stuff, and it spelled doom for the cruft trailing in my wake. I attacked the crates with a vengenance, tossing the health insurance benefits handbook from my previous job; gas bills circa 2002; movie ticket stubs for Master and Commander (2003), Spellbound (2002) and The Sixth Sense (1999); cell phone bills from two providers ago.
Actually, the Spellbound stub stays; Renate and I saw the documentary on our first official date.
I could assign essential, non-disposable meaning to the remaining items. I have for years. But I am trying to keep only what I really, truly, actually need.
It’s hard. I’m a pack rat; I might need anything.
I kept some. But I tossed a lot.
Renate would throw away the refrigerator if it weren’t so heavy. She disposes of pay stubs without a care (“you only need your most recent one”).
Palm sweat aside, I feel good. Lightweight. I feel somewhat free of “things.” We sold off the aging couch on Thursday and I managed to squash the pangs of regret.
Of course, they’ll pry my computer from my cold, dead hands.