In the aftermath of the fire, our insurance company told us to start working on an inventory of everything that was in the house and garage. Now, unless you’re an extreme minimalist, when you start writing down everything you own, you find there’s more there than you would have guessed. Objects come to mind that you forgot about. You remember items you hadn’t used, or maybe even seen, in years.
Sometimes these kinds of things are kept because they’re sentimental. You intentionally chose to keep them because of the memories associated with them, not because they were useful. If you lost them, you’d love to be able to replace them, although you wouldn’t be able to.
Other things, though, were kept around for no real reason. Maybe they had been useful at one time but slowly became just more stuff taking up space. If you lost them, you wouldn’t miss them. You probably wouldn’t try to replace them.
This second kind of item can show up in non-physical ways too. If you listed out everything that’s on your mind—your tasks, your various personal and professional commitments, all the things you want to do in the future, as well as the lingering regrets of the past—how long would that inventory be? And how much of it is worth keeping around? If the slate was wiped clean, which things would you choose to add back? And which things would you let disappear?