Today I unloaded boxes and bags of Stuff at the Salvation Army just west of downtown. It took some time to decide to let it go and subsequently pack it up and take it away, never to be seen again. At least, by my eyes. It took about 45 seconds to unload.
Why do we hold on so tightly to our stuff? Is it the remains of some primitive habit, telling us we might not come across Stuff so readily in the future? Do we anticipate sentimental longing, or separation anxiety? Because after I dropped off my boxes of Stuff, I went out for sushi with a friend. And rather than mourn my departed Stuff, I felt lighter and we discussed things that matter: people and the future.
We’re constantly leaning toward the future, looking into it, creating it. Yet we harbor some bizarre notion that we need relics of the past. I dragged a towering stack of New Yorkers from my last apartment to my current one, but never thought to look at them once. There’s a whole box of school papers and readings in my closet, saved since first year, and I haven’t ever thought to open it and take a look inside, let alone read any of them. In all the time we spend using the things we have now and exploring new things, how much time do we spend regretting that we don’t have X object from the past? Staggeringly little.
Tonight is the last night I’ll sleep in this bed and that makes me a little sad… but probably every night after tonight, I won’t contribute one minute of my thoughts total reflecting on the bed I’m sleeping in. I’ll just sleep in it, thinking about things that matter: people and the future.