I talked in a previous post about how a long stay in a single address allows one to gradually accumulate great piles of stuff without even realizing it. But the pain/joy of moving is that one is forced to confront such things and decide what to do. Usually, the choice comes down to: box it up and move it, or get rid of it.
This month, I have been making the choice to lighten my load. A week ago, I took out a bunch of good clothing I never wear: a leather jacket, two suits, a faux-leopard coat that I used to wear a lot, that sort of thing. "Still good! You like this!" warred with "You haven't worn this in 3 years/5 years/10 years/ever. Donate it." I've approached neighbors, friends, and random acquaintances and asked them whether they want some object or other, many of them quite nice. Yesterday, I saw a neighbor going by, and I dashed out of my door and asked "Do you need a blender or a drip coffee maker?"
The result? I've been slowly getting rid of everything that I don't use regularly. Every thing I give away is one more thing I don't have to pack.
Today, I explained this, in excited tones, to a friend of mine. He pointed out that I could have sold them online and gotten lots of money for them. Undoubtedly true. But right now, "lightening my load" also means not spending time doing things that I don't want to or have to do. Getting an account online, photographing and listing items, corresponding with buyers, taking shit to the post office -- NOT something I want to be doing right now.
I've also been attacking those stacks and stacks of articles with my marginal notes and syllabi and reading lists that I've saved. I wish I could tell you that I'd just ditched them all, but the fact is that about 20% of them are still with me, waiting to be scanned. But none of it will be done now, and none of it is getting moved with me. I've gone through the drawer in my office full of publishers' catalogs and just tossed it all in the recycling. Likewise for old notepads full of things that I figured that I might one day want to transcribe. The general philosophy here is the same: If I haven't needed it for this many years, I don't need it now. Or ever, probably.
None of this makes moving a pleasant experience, but I feel like I'm getting something good out of it: a lighter, more portable life.