This is a picture of seven "short boxes" of comic books that I collected together to donate/get rid of. Most of these comic books have been sitting in my closet for the entire time I've lived in my current apartment--about 8 years. In sorting through a bunch more boxes, I should note that I kept more boxes than I am getting rid of, so I still have 8 or so boxes of comics I don't want to get rid of (yet?).
Thing is, this purging isn't just about comics, or about getting more room in our closet (though it is partly about that--now that I live with my partner, it's only fair she have as much room in the closets and I do). It's also about changing my relationship to these objects. I've always been something of a "pack rat", and this tendency seems to run in my family. Lately I've begun to recognize that "pack rat" and "hoarder" are both part of a spectrum of behaviors, and I've grown to believe that if I don't create more mindfulness around my pack rat tendencies, that they'll continue to move toward the hoarder end of that spectrum.
Here's what my brain does when I try to decide whether or not to get rid of a set of comic books:
+ Ok, I haven't read this in years, and I probably won't read it again. It should go in the "go" pile.
+ BUT JEFF DON'T YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU BOUGHT IT? YOU WERE GOING THROUGH X, Y AND Z AT THE TIME. DON'T YOU WANT TO HOLD ON TO THAT?
+ Um, no. I don't. I have the memory. The comic isn't related to it. It should go in the "go" pile.
+ BUT JEFF, WHAT A WASTE THAT IS. YOU SHOULD FIND THE COMIC A GOOD HOME.
+ Um, no. There are hundreds of these comics out there for people to buy if they really want them. And nobody gets these particular comics if they're in my closet. They should go in the "go" pile.
+ BUT JEFF, WHAT IF YOU WANT TO READ IT AGAIN SOMEDAY?
+ Um, no. I can buy it again. Or torrent it. And I haven't read it in 10 years. It goes in the "go" pile.
And, after all of that, I still feel a loss when I put it in the "go" pile. My nervous system is weiiiiiird that way.
To be clear, there are objects that I think it's healthy to have an emotional attachment to. One comic series was coming out right at a very tumultuous time in my life (Hi Katy!), and it's so identified with that time that I pull it out from time to time and read it again. I'm gonna keep that one for a long while. But I now recognize that some of these attachments are just unhealthy, and result in heading further down a path I don't want to go down. So I'm trying to get better in touch with the feeling of freedom that comes from purging stuff. It doesn't come naturally. I'll keep plugging away.