I'm a pack rat, but not nearly as bad as I used to be. I've moved my collections of Who Knows What; Haven't Looked At It In A Decade from one home to the next over the last several years, and I've grown weary of hanging onto stuff that might become relevant again someday. When I trash or donate things, what happens to them? I wonder if that tiny Star Wars Dagobah playset I gave away is still in good hands, or whether it got swept away in a toy purge, half-eaten by the cat, or tossed into a forgotten container in a closet somewhere. Does a remnant of my first car still exist in a landfill somewhere?
People, even. At this moment, I have 4,895 subscribers on my YouTube channel. Will those same people be watching my videos a decade from now? Will I be making new videos a decade from now? Will there even be a place to upload new videos a decade from now? Part of me wants to still be recording when I'm an old man, playing Mega Man 38 for the grandkids of my original viewers, and complaining about how I can't get Final Fantasy to work on the original hardware.
Even if every tangible thing is destined to break down and wear out in time, how long will we be remembered—individuals, cultures, the human race itself? How far into the future will our influence reach? I think of all the time-travel stories where the littlest details of timeline disruption have no lasting impact on history, and then of all the time-travel stories where the tiniest action leads to a future where it rains doughnuts and Biff Tannen owns the world. It's interesting to think about the fate of our stuff and the legacy of the people around us. Makes the crucial seem less crucial, and the trivial seem less trivial.