I enjoy sifting through old papers. Every year or so I go through my papers and every time I keep about half of the stack. I start with the papers collected since the last winnowing, from which I save maybe one sheet from every twenty. Unwanted papers are recycled or digitized. By the time I reach the papers that are a few years old, I only get rid of one out of twenty.
At the core of the pile the memories are dense. Fond, embarrassing snippets of poetry. Touching letters from friends. Notes from my favorite college classes, and drawings derived from boredom. Plans for world domination, plans for programming projects. Everything has a practical purpose, or else a significant core of meaning.
By the time I'm forty I'll descend through the strata of my life with easy familiarity. I'm looking forward to it, looking back on a trail of papers like memories. The old ones drop away until only the striking, the harrowing, the golden remain.