I've long wondered what the purpose of all this downsizing really is - what the drive to do it consist of - where the drive comes from.
Part is sheerly reactionary. The amount of stuff to keep up with is overwhelming. Bill and I have inheirted way too much stuff. We have accumulated tons of furniture, clothing and knick-knacks just by passive accumulation. Literal tons. Tractor trailers full of it. At a certain rate, we could keep up with the dissolution of the material goods. But like Lucy in the Chocolate factory, eventually we could *not* keep up and we started shoving it anywhere it would fit. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uztA6JCKB4s). You can't keep that up indefinitely and it began to spill out into everyday living areas. At a certain point, you have to go through it, making decision all the time.
In fact, that's the key to all this - making decisions all the time to keep, trash, donate or sell. Every single item that comes into a house needs to either have a place made for it, or you have to make a decision as it's eventual disposal.
Right now, I'm fussing with books. I have made a decision: I cannot think of purchasing a book - theology, fiction, coffee-table, whatever - without deciding either 1) which other book gets the boot or 2) how will I dispose of this book when I'm finished? I'm purchasing more books on iBooks or Kindle just for this reason, although I do believe there is nothing that will replace the feel of a book in your hands.
I did go through a phase of active accumulation, especially when we first married. The house seemed so empty and what was not new was what I called "Salvation Army Reject" or "Early Married Impoverished." Most of those furnishings have gone away, but I definitely spent a phase in my early marriage of accumulation. I was trying to fill myself up with something - I guess I was mourning a bit the fact that I was no longer an independent adult, that I now had another person to think of. I also was mourning the single life. No one warned me about that! And no one warned me about the loss of "self" that comes with having children and the fact that you are never alone again - no, not even to use the restroom! I mourned the fact that I had to put my desires on the back burner for the greater good of the family. It's really not as selfish as it sounds; most new mothers go through it. But again, I began to purchase and accumulate to deal with these feelings.
I started accumulating again passively as my parents and grandparents died. However, I didn't mind because the items reminded me of them - they were physical relics, memories. Again, the stuff filled a void.
However -- stuff can't fill these voids. Stuff can't replace that sense of self identity or self worth or dead loved ones. Those voids have to mend on their own; and of course it can be filled by God. Interesting that this society has made "stuff" equal to God, is it not?
Enough of this -- time to sort more books. Of course, we purchased 6 yesterday so at least 6 must go out today!