“Owning is owing, having is hoarding”. This quote by Úrsula Guin has been on my mind lately.

Over the last six months, I’ve been thinking hard on how to downsize what is 30+ years of collecting, storing and holding onto things. It is a bit overwhelming to come up with a system of how best to do this while managing a business and the rest of my life. Guess what? I have less than 6 months to make this happen.

Twice I have downsized, having previously sold two homes. In fact, I moved into a tiny apartment for seven years before I purchased a large split ranch home. I remember most of my furnishings seemed lost in my new house, although not for long. During the last 12 years, I’ve managed to pack this house much like the last one . My goal this time is to downsize to 50%, a real challenge. This overwhelming task got me thinking of why our homes are full of stuff. Here is my take on this:

Baby boomers are certainly a different kind of hoarder, not the hoarding disorder that is horrific and paralyzing, but nonetheless having serious “hoarding tendencies”. Boomers tend to be particularly materialistic collecting whatever fancies them, everything from art to novelty items, collectibles, travel memories, the latest gadgets, and much more. Our homes are full of objects that we have an emotional connection to. This makes letting go a bit harder. I get why Egyptian pharaohs like King Tut buried themselves with all of their possessions. Even in death, for some folks, letting go may be a tad too hard to do.

To better understand our obsession with holding on to things, I did a bit of googling on the topic. Here’s what I found.

  • As baby boomers get older and have more time, or maybe experience some form of grief, the collecting of items can trigger or lead to hoarding. It is expected that as baby boomers age into their 60s and 70s, this problem may grow significantly.

  • Bear in mind, that collecting is not the problem as long as it does not interfere with a person’s normal conduct of life. Once it does, it becomes a disorder.

  • There is sufficient evidence that offsprings and siblings of boomers do not want their stuff and dread getting rid of it when they leave this earth. Something we should all consider when planning our estate.

Although this does not exactly help me understand the genesis of why humans collect things, I am hopeful it will serve to liberate me. I don’t expect to ever join the ranks of those that preach minimalism, however, it gives me some encouragement to form a plan and get started.

 My solution for the moment is to take a week off and stay at a Mexican resort to figure all this out. I will keep you posted.

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