Have you ever gone crazy with a new hobby? Did you go out and buy way more stuff than you needed to support this hobby. You didn’t call it stuff. You called it equipment or supplies, something that made it sound not only important but also necessary. I’m guilty of this. Over the past 38 years I’ve accumulated clown supplies, magic apparatus, books about puppetry, you name it. I started this process of acquiring equipment when I was in my 20s, then got busy raising kids and earning graduate degrees and didn’t have time to manage my growing ever growing collection properly. Frankly, it really got out of hand.
Lately I’ve been asking myself what I’m realistically going to use out of my huge collection. There are magic tricks I’ve never learned, books I’ve never read, things I bought for one reason or another but don’t remember now. Having cleaned out my parents’ house and found fabric that was 50 years old and never cut, yarn from what must have been an entire flock of sheep, and broken tools, I don’t want my daughters to have to decide what to do with my things. I’ve sold, given away, or thrown away what seems like a ton of useful magic and clown supplies. Oh, I kept my Tarbell Encyclopedia of Magic, all my balloon and face painting books, juggling supplies, and stilts. Those are things I might actually still use.
My house is still cluttered with many of my parents’ things. Some of them are important to me, but many are things I don’t even recognize. I’m still going through them, considering what’s best to do with them. Do they have special meaning to someone else in the family? Are they basically just junk that my parents valued for sentimental reasons I don’t know? Are they truly hidden treasures? How do I reconcile the value these things had to my parents and my ambivalence toward the same items?
The big question on my mind is, “Are these things contributing to aging well, or are they encumbering me and depleting my energy?” What do I gain by having all this stuff? What do I lose by letting it go? What do I gain by letting it go? What does any of it have to do with aging well?
How are you changing your life so that you can age well? What does aging well even mean? I suppose the answer to the last question changes over time as we gain more life experience and our priorities change. Today aging well for me means having friends, family, good health, and enough. I don’t need to be rich, to have too many things. I need enough to eat, enough to keep me warm and safe, and not more. Well, maybe my excess number of cats (4). They’re beyond enough but I got them 10 years ago and I’ll keep them all.