Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – February 11, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – February 11, 2004 – I have too much stuff. I am in danger of suffering a stuff attack, during which I will spin around like a top, clutch my throat, fall to the ground, writhe about and finally succumb, all the while – my stuff will be watching!
I have do-dads, decorations, old papers, new papers, bottles, useless little ornaments, useless big ornaments, clothes and shoes I never wear, business paraphernalia, dishes, pots and pans, boxes, retired telephones, books I’ll never read again, towels and sheets that matched my decor twenty years ago, garden implements with broken handles that I might fix one day, costume jewellery that may be back in style by 2040, three ring binders with more stuff inside that holds out a promise of future usefulness.
I have rolled up rugs, pieces of furniture that don’t belong with my current style, camera equipment from a darkroom disassembled years ago, documents from my parent’s home that are still in boxes, old income tax returns from the seventies and this is just in the den. Okay I’m kidding, but the point is I have too much stuff, most of which is useless.
About two years ago I started on the third floor of my house, going through boxes, drawers and old chests. I cleared out things that were no longer useful, put them in boxes and moved them down through the house to the basement. Then I tackled the two bedrooms on the second floor – both of which have wall-to-wall closets. Finally my office fell prey to my relentless pursuit of de-cluttering.
The living and dining rooms were next and then the kitchen reluctantly surrendered its treasures. All this “stuff” went to the basement. I had a vision of myself working away a few hours a week until I had gutted this last bastion of resistance.
Alas – it is two years later and “stuffitis” has reared its ugly head once more. I need a stuffectomy. I imagine clean counters, organized shelves, closets with fashionable clothing, neat plastic storage bins for those things that must be kept – such as banking papers, documents, Christmas decorations, off season clothing and garden tools.
How much stuff can one woman possess? Well, I ’m here to tell you – “a lot”. These things do not make me happy, they serve no purpose, they are cluttering up my space and my life. They may be useful to someone else – perhaps their destiny lies with another. This stuff makes me tense and cranky. It gets in the way. I trip over it. I curse it. I don’t know how to get out from under it.
A sudden, maddening thought pops into my head. Perhaps I’m an addict. Maybe there is a 12 Step Program. I require counselling. I want a withdrawal buddy. I am in desperate need of an intervention or maybe an exorcism. Should I call the church? No, that sounds extreme. I’ve got guts. I can do this alone – cold turkey! Ahhhhhhhhhh . Help. Phew.
Okay – breathe. That’s it – just breathe. Didn’t Faith Hill have a song called ‘breathe’. I need to learn the lyrics. The more I think of this dilemma, the more I’m convinced that ‘stuff’ falls into the following categories – guilt stuff, useless stuff, broken stuff, sentimental stuff, someone else’s stuff, professional stuff, family stuff, out-of-date stuff, trashy stuff, clothing stuff, technical stuff, gift stuff, kitchen stuff, bathroom stuff, other room stuff and personal stuff.
Look around your home or office. Where at all possible give the stuff back that belongs to someone else. Toss out the junky stuff. Assemble the sentimental and guilt stuff and take a long, hard look at it. If the pangs of ‘guilt’ and ‘aw shucks’ are still too great – set it aside. Re-gift the gift stuff that has no purpose. Have a giant yard sale!
Call the Salvation Army to come for the extra kitchen, bathroom, other room and clothing stuff. Talk to parents, spouse, kids and siblings about the family stuff, call a charity or computer re-sale store about the technical stuff, edit the business stuff and assess the future possibilities of the out-of-date stuff. Now I’m left with the personal stuff.
The pressure mounts. These decisions are mine alone. I can do this. I am going to start at the top of my house, yet again and really purge my closets, dressers, shelves and drawers. I feel lighter just thinking about it. I am going to be ruthless. I will defeat this monster. I will wrestle my demons to the mat. Off in the distance, I see clear counters, bare table tops, book shelves devoid of junk and closets hung with clothes that I wear.
This hankering for simplicity is not new but it has a fresh urgency. It goes hand-in-hand with my desire for change. Relinquishing the old allows the new to enter a life (and I don’t mean new stuff) – but new attitudes, choices and a new way of being in the world. Clearing away the physical space in my life is also a great first step in clearing the cobwebs out of my spiritual and emotional life. So – stuff be gone. I shall triumph.