My love/hate relationship with my stuff
Moving across the world has meant turning my life upside down and examining everything from every angle. The amount of thought that has gone into what to do with each and every thing I own is absurd. I've had to categorize everything into four buckets: 1) stuff I will bring with me on the flight, 2) stuff I will ship for $1 per pound...to arrive in a few months, 3) stuff I will put in storage and maybe ship in a 20-foot container when we get settled (or else have here when we return), and 4) stuff I will sell, throw away, or give away.
On what basis do I determine this? When space is scarce, how can I prioritize between my noise-cancellation headset, for example, and another pair of my wife's shoes? The way I see it, I should only own something if it either helps me make a living, adds significant convenience, or adds beauty or knowledge to my life. Well, that covers nearly everything...so I've had to discriminate further. The next question to ask is how often something is used. This requires both a consideration of past use, and likely use in the future based on anticipated lifestyle changes. The problem with anticipating lifestyle changes is I really can't...well, I try to, but all I see are multiple dependencies that will lead to various divergent paths. Worse than having to manage stuff I already have, over the past several months I've had to buy many new items such as power adapters, computers, and other technology.
If you've read this far, you've read enough to know that this is a pain in the ass. So much so that I'm more excited about the day that I move out of my apartment with my bags packed than the day that I actually arrive in Europe. At this point I just want to be free from my stuff. Now I say that with a straight face, but will carry with me a suitecase full of electronics that I "need".
Nevertheless, what I've learned from this experience is that I need to reflect before bringing anything new into my home. So much of what I've purchased or been given has been used so little, and so it has become nothing more than a burden. So do I throw this stuff away or give it to Goodwill only to pass on the burden to someone else? The guilt I feel over the waste I produce is significant, and again I have a suitecase full of only electronics...stuff that is expensive and valuable now, but will surely be obsolete and thrown away in a few years.
At any rate, the idea that more is better is absurd. The idea that bigger is better is also absurd. The growing complexity of the world combined with our more dynamic lifestyles makes this quite clear. Each time we bring something new into our homes, we need to understand the burden that comes along with it.