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Downsizing - The Ubiquitous Reversal

We are in the midst of making a contingency offer to buy a much smaller house. It's about time. The knees don't like the stairs, there's too much yard to look after, and the dogs gone blind. And I don't want to leave my kids with the mess my mother left me after slipping into dementia. In addition to caring for her, my wife and cleaned out, remodeled and sold the house, and distributed her possessions to family members. We sifted through so many personal writings and keepsakes. It was hard, and it's too much to leave our kids whose lives a busy enough.

It feels good to give away, trash and simplify everything, though I don't know what to do with all my books. The smaller house won't absorb them and they are my friends. Tough choices. Going through the house also feels like a life review. I see things I have long forgotten and dwell momentarily on each, recalling the time, place and meaning that went with it. I made the mistake I guess we all make - "Don't throw it away, you might need it, just keep it in the closet or storeroom" - a mistake I must now unmake. We are getting old, my wife and I, and we take a journey now into meaning instead of places.

Five decades of building up a life, one or two for dismantling it piece by piece, and then, finally, releasing the whole thing. Downsizing puts this long curve into perspective for me, reminding me also that one day it will be time to leave, and that day comes steadily closer. Going through old journals, I stop and greet the one I was thirty-five years ago and express my gratitude for all his hard work. We made it. We turned out ok. It's been a good life.
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