Submitted by Shawn Conn on Mon, 09/05/2016 - 21:37

I've recently been trying to reduce my possession footprint. It partially started in 2015 with the move, but it was more a utilitarian process of "will or won't I need this?" than a introspective "why do I have this and what do I still think about it?" It's good to do that time-to-time to remove the glut of stupid possessions that we all pile up. I like to reflect on what I own, with the Fight Club quote "The things you own, end up owning you" still hanging on after all these years.

In my introspective process, I ask questions like "do I have positive feelings about this?" or "do I still own this solely by inertia?" Basically, we own things to achieve something with it. You can group the types of possessions in different ways, but it's most convenient for me to visualize it as a spectrum ranging from purely sentimental to purely utilitarian. As you can imagine, the sentimental, representing a strong thoughts/feelings, are the toughest rid myself of, while the utilitarian are the easiest. 

But it's that middle gray range, where I find myself jumping back and forth, on whether it should be tossed.

For example:

  • A hand-pump beer tap, acquired after many years of being the beer keg supplier for Thunder Over Louisville parties. 
  • An abundance of guest-check notepads for manual restaurants orders, piled up from my years working a NABC.
  • A 5.1 Surround system that I've had since college. Not excellent, but good enough to give a decent surround sound for all the various BWM movies, video games, music and other things it has played. 

These items I have a tough time with throwing away; they hold an abundance of memories that I'd also toss out with them. Any its not just the warm, fuzzy, "oh, that reminds me of this one time..." kind of memories. It's also the hidden kind of memories; muscle memories of interacting with them; and other sensory memories that bounce around our limbic system triggering adjacent or tangent memories and feelings. In that way, these possessions are extensions of us, part of our life experiences, storing bits of thoughts & feelings that make us who we are. 

Going back to the spectrum of a person's possessions, you can really develop a sense of what a person thinks & feels just by looking at what they own.