Perhaps one of the things that comes with age is a sense of proportion and pragmatic reality. I recently began a bit of a reconsideration of my life, and it led me, to all things, to do a bit of spring cleaning, here in the middle of the fall. By which I mean, I finally understood I no longer needed to hold on to all the chiropractic journals, medical journals, and ephemera I had built up over the years.
In part, this is was simply a function of space. I have, or had, copies of virtually every issue of every chiropractic and CAM journal published over the past 3 decades, and I no longer had any place to put them. This reminded me of the old article in the Journal of Irreproducible Results which demonstrated that if you put every issue of National Geographic magazine into a single room, you would tilt the Earth off its axis. I held those journals because (1) for so long, I was editor for many of them (JMPT, Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, Chiropractic Technique, Journal of Chiropractic Humanities, Journal of Sports Chiropractic and Rehabilitation, etc.) and (2) because you never know when you might need that one article in the hundreds you have.But I had to finally admit to myself that the world had changed. The days of a Dr. Henderson holding 18,000 articles in his office file cabinets is gone. Everything is electronic now, and every article I had a hard copy of was available on the web in some fashion, all there for the finding. I asked my students how many subscribe to any of the journals, and the answer was, none- and why should they since we have site licenses for them all. I tried to give the journals away, but there were no takers. So, they are being recycled. And from that, there are old textbooks that could go, and other magazines, and so on. I say this as well knowing good friends who lost the choice when Hurricane Sandy hit; flooding ruined their collection as well and they had to discard all the damaged journals, and it really did not bother them either.
And in the end, with my changing interests- now toward bioethics and evidence-based practice, for example, not technique and orthopedics- I really no longer need them anyway. And it feels sort of good, to be sure.