One of my goals for this year was some serious introspection so as to return to my Montreal life with a clearer head. I am not sure if I have simply not done enough of it, or if it’s simply a matter of being outside of my normal “zone” and having epiphanies now and then. So far, it seems to be the latter.

The other night I was dining with some new friends who are, of course, also colleagues at the Center. As often happens, these dinners are intergenerational, and three of my companions are close to retirement age (or just passing through it) and are also switching up their living arrangements. This involves divesting themselves of a lot of their material possessions. Not in some self-inflicted-poverty way but in the sense that they are pack rats and over the decades had accumulated all manner of things.

Then the epiphany hit me: I don’t miss most of my stuff.

Partly it’s an illusion fostered by the fact that I’m not in my normal life, that more and more aspects of my life appear to be contained in this computer that I’m typing in (and backed up in the cloud), that some “things” from my life in Montreal (like most of my ties) are simply not needed while I’m here, and that Stanford has an amazing library and the Center has amazing librarians so I don’t need all my books to get work done. But still, my apartment is full of things that if you pointed them out to me I would call them indispensable. Yet here I am and I have probably forgotten half of them. Okay, not my kitchen, not my studio speakers, not my acoustic bass guitar, I’ve had call for a bass amp here, and not the beautiful apartment itself, but that still leaves lots of stuff. I miss my friends and many other aspects of my Montreal life. But the stuff? Most of it appears to have no effect on my happiness. Which I knew intellectually but now I know a little better emotionally.

Of course I have no illusions about undoing my bourgeois existence, and purging is so much work (we just did that to move in 2004, 2007 and even a bit this year in anticipation of renters) that I probably won’t do anything about it.