The question “Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?” forms the title of a new book by Roz Chast. I haven’t seen the book myself, but I am told that the title refers to the touchy question Roz asked her aging parents about what would happen to all of their stuff when they were no longer around to watch over it. It was a subject they ultimately never could bring themselves to address.
That’s a common story, of course, and not just among those of us who are getting old. Most people living a middle-class lifestyle have several times more possessions than they can realistically ever use. Most of it, logically, is clutter, and should be taken away in way or another. Unfortunately, it is easier to postpone the question of which part is actually excess. It’s a subject that can wait until after we are done with whatever we are in the middle of this week, and in practice, that means it can wait indefinitely, or at least until the next time we move.