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We had a similar experience with an estate sale when selling my grandmother's house: decades and decades of things in every nook and cranny. Most had to go, but we, too, kept a few things that hold special memories. Like the vinyl butterfly that sat in the window above the kitchen sink (it was supposed to stick to the window, but the suction didn't always work), which I remember always being there when I was a kid.

Mostly, though, I'm big on "decluttering." Probably because I tend to keep things that don't actually hold any "instrumentally material" value. Just a bunch of stuff. I've purged my belongings several times since moving to my first apartment and had to get rid of most of my furniture when I moved back in with my parents a few years ago. I experience the occasional twinge of regret, but then I remember that the things I gave away sat in boxes for years, and I never missed them.

But the lava lamp my best friend gave me for high school graduation still sits atop a bookshelf in the office. 💛

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May 15, 2023·edited May 15, 2023Author

Theresa, I really like your take on decluttering. I agree that it’s a good thing to let go of much of what falls under the category “instrumental materialism.” By doing so we can winnow down to a more manageable collection all the artifacts and memorabilia that are most precious to us, and I have a LOT of that, probably 75 percent of my stuff/artifacts. These are unique and valuable things that go beyond the realm of keepsakes in and of themselves. They portray my life in little bits and pieces, and to get rid of them is, in effect, to toss away those little bits of “me.”

This may sound fanciful, but it makes sense to me. Because I don’t want the best of these things — including several hundred of my prize books that I can’t cram onto my limited bookcase shelves — to sit in boxes unseen and forgotten, I have the knickknacks on display on every available surface, and my books in stacks along the wall. It’s not the prettiest sight to neatniks, but I love to wander around my apartment looking at these things.

At my age they All have special significance, histories and stories beneath the surfaces. I’ve lived a pretty long life already, and all these “things” — especially treasured books — represent and symbolize my journey and the little things I hold dear. Nothing that’s big, shiny, uber techie, or expensive. That’s not me. 🥹

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Can't blame you for wanting to hold onto the books. I've purged my book collection several times of things I picked up on whims at book sales--or that I knew were no longer right to hold onto after becoming a Christian. What remains are books that have significance, bring appropriate pleasure, and offer enriching information. They just barely fit on a couple of shelves in the office, but I'm sure I'll accumulate more over time...

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I meant to add that most of my books were purchased new and are photo, art, illustration, botanical books with beautiful prints worthy of framing, and the like. Coffee-table books, if you will. That’s why they take up so much space.

I have for decades been an avid collector of photography essay and pictorial volumes they are rather expensive, and I’d never part with them because I want them nearby and accessible to peruse all the art and photography again. This gives me great joy and intellectual stimulation because I have learned so much over the years about fine photography, and I love art.

The reminder of my books are an eclectic assortment of nonfiction books that I am constantly adding to and trying to prioritize to be “next” on my reading list. I have virtually no fiction, but a good collection of short story anthologies.

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Same here on the nonfiction-to-fiction ratio. And I go through the same process a lot, myself. My plans often get derailed when I discover new books I want to read first...

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