When MP3 was becoming a popular file format, I started ripping and converting my CDs. Over time I actually built up quite a large CD collection before iTunes came about, and I ended up with a huge pile of the little blighters.
Eventually, about 8 years ago, I got sick and tired of the sheer physical space occupied by CDs, and pulled all the discs out, storing them in compact folders instead. The disk cases are now long gone. There was no regrets; we’ve long since stopped buying CDs as a regular event. I get the majority of my music these days via iTunes, and buy probably one or two CDs a year – just the stuff I can’t source as an iTunes download.
Then, about 6 years ago, I started converting my DVDs to file format, and within a short period of time I started throwing out the cases, keeping the DVDs just in a disk storage box, and the sleeves in a folder.
Fast forward to now, and it’s time to complete the process. You see, all the “special” packs that we’d bought over the years – TV series and special box editions, etc., are now going through the same fate. Even before we’d decided for sure we were moving, we’d stopped buying DVDs except for the most special of items, and then only when they are on sale. “Special box edition of X” no longer appeals. Stupid Alien eggs occupying copious amounts of space and containing just a few disks are space wasters – as are all the other “special” packs.
And so on a Saturday afternoon the deconstruction of falling stars kicks in:
Once the DVDs are sorted, the limited collection of BluRays will go the same way.
On reflection, DVD cases only partially exist for protection of the disks. If that’s all they existed for, they’d be at most the same size as CD cases. Instead, they’re big, bulky things, and often people will pay considerably more for the same movie or TV show if it comes in a “special” case. I know, I’ve been there.
Their primary purpose, I believe, is to fulfil a bogan need to proclaim “look at my possessions!” But as the old saying goes, you can’t take it with you when you’re gone – life isn’t a race to having the most possessions, or at least it certainly shouldn’t be, and so having physical reminders that you own something should be entirely irrelevant.
Choosing to move a reasonably large distance provides considerable opportunity for introspection. What am I keeping this for? Why did I buy it originally? Does it fulfil me? Is it worth the cost of moving it? Will I miss it if I get rid of it?
Everyone clings onto certain things because they’re personally important or useful. I’m not above keeping something for emotional attachments without any sense of logic. I still have the first toy I ever remember getting – a nut-shell stuffed raccoon that my family called “Squirrel” when they gave him to me. The story goes that we were in a toy shop and Squirrel fell from a shelf into my stroller. I’m now 37, and by all accounts I’ve had him for most of those years. I’ll never have kids, and I’ll never give him away.
But other times we cling onto things for entirely the wrong reasons: perceived status symbols, notions of not wasting money, and peer pressure. Yet, when you have to bundle up all your possessions to move, you have to make realistic decisions. For instance, I have a bed frame I bought from Ikea for $150. I’ll be ditching it when we move – for the simple reason that the cost of moving the bed frame will equal (if not exceed) the cost of buying the same frame again in Melbourne from an Ikea down there. Holding onto it makes no sense.
As a consumerist society, we hold onto too many things that make no sense, and frequently desire to acquire more things to hold onto, also without much sense to it. I’m not coming over all hippy and preaching that we should drop all possessions, but it’s time we consider where that culture has got us. It’s practically killed the United States. The US has become so consumption driven that it’s outsourced almost all manufacturing to other countries. Just as we all want the right to consume, we should all share the creation of that being consumed.
I refuse to be defined by, or buried in a pile of my possessions. Life is to short, and too precious, to be weighed down by a portfolio of possessions that would make any previous generation jealous. I’d prefer instead to have the freedom to make a contribution that will better the next generation.
[Edit] Of course, the title of this blog post comes from the final episode of Season 4 of Babylon 5, in which the highly advanced humans come back and examine Terran history. It seemed apropos.