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Adam knows paring things down ain't easy

Jake at Glorious Noise writes about his attempt to pare down his collection of 1,000 vinyl records to 50 keepers.

My idea at the time was that if I wasn't ever listening to this stuff, why should I hold onto it? Shouldn't music be more than a status symbol or fetish object? Over the last three years I can honestly say that there have only been a few times I wanted to hear something that I'd had on vinyl, but didn't have on CD or MP3.

My own "Why should I hold on to it?" struggle is constant and goes well beyond music... emails, to do list items, fantasy someday maybe items, half written songs, pants with holes in them, almost rotting food in the fridge, and pretty much every physical possession I own...

"Why should I hold on to it?" pops up in every single facet of my life.

On the Appalachian Trail, hikers obsessively pared down the content of their backpacks to the bare essentials. My pack weighed about 35 pounds with a week's worth of food in it. It had everything I needed and it didn't kill my knees or slow me down.

The logical part of me knows that a lighter load will make a hike more enjoyable, but that doesn't mean deleting things from my backpack is easy. Simply put, pack weight is a factor of fear.

The folks who can successfully pare things down are able face their fear of deleting things, are good at creating rules for what to keep and what to delete, and recognize that they'll have to break their own rules.

For Jake the vinyl junkie, those rules were:

  1. It must be good. That is, you have to enjoy actually listening to it.
  2. It must be unavailable in a properly mastered CD format.
  3. It should be somewhat rare.

My friend thought that all three should be true in order to justify keeping something, but I was a little looser. If something met two of the three requirements, that might be enough for me.

What are your "Why should I hold on to it?" struggles? What are your rules for keeping and deleting things? When have allowed yourself to break those rules?

9/18/2008 1:22 pm