Now that ski season is over, I am spending more time at my Cornell office dealing with archiving papers accumulated from 1958 to present, during my active and emeritus years as an academic. I think it must be a built in characteristic of humans to save items that are meaningful (or maybe not) in our lives. The items we accumulate can have both physical implications as well as relational aspects. The physical and the relational usually become intertwined in intricate ways.
In the ski world, I have found it hard to dispose of obsolete skis that I used for many years. These antiques have memories embedded in their structures. However, in the last few years I have taken the bold step to pare down to one pair of skis! This fits with the minimalist life style my wife and I try to maintain. If it hasn't been used for a long time, it is appropriate to pass it on to someone who might have a use for it. I notice that as time passes stuff does build up in spite of our zealous disposal lifestyle. Decisions in this realm area are easier than in the relational element.
Here is a thought about sentimental items in the realm of correspondence involving our human relationships. How many old greeting cards should one keep? If you have what my family calls an appreciation file, do you really have to keep everything or is just a sample sufficient?
Now I will go back to the office files I already mentioned. I had not reviewed my saved correspondence with a multitude of contacts over about 62 plus years! As I began to go through the files I was led down innumerable memory paths! The reminders in the files ranged all over the place. There were numerous notes from former students that warmed my heart to hear of their joys, successes and sometimes troubles. Significant milestones were highlighted in the saved papers. Some of the predictions of future events jumped out to me with the realization that many of them had come true. The question then arose- were they significant enough to preserve for history? I could go on at length in this vein but will not. My concluding point is that all of us one time or another have to decide what to keep and what to throw away. There is even a biblical admonition about this in Ecclesiastes. There are times to gather and times to throw away. We need the wisdom of Solomon to know the difference.