“…and a Time to Shed.” Part II
Last week’s column discussed how the tedious existence arising from being “iced in” – provided a massive amount of time to deal with all the junk and odds and ends that many of us have accumulated over many years.
You start in the attic over your garage, and there it is: the flotsam and jetsam that you have gathered over many decades – only to be cast into dark, unseen places. You gaze at the multitude of dusty corrugated boxes bearing labels such as Mom’s sewing, Mom’s photo albums, Old pillows, JL Memory Lane, and Gifts. Amid all these forlorn boxes are odd items such as a bowling ball bag last used in 2004, a jai alai “cesta” bought in Acapulco in 1970, empty picture frames, ratty wicker chairs, and who-knows-what inside the many black garbage bags scattered about.
But these attic items are just a few of the many long held “treasures” that can be found in every nook and cranny of your abode: there are other mountains of this stuff in the basement, in the bedroom and hall closets, in every cabinet drawer, on every shelf, under every bed, and even in the shed out back. But you remain determined to thin out your possessions, to dump the obsolete, the unworn, and the unusable – to move this junk along!
You begin one box at a time, appraising each item within and then classifying the items into the categories of Keep, Pitch, Sell, Donate, Pass on to Family, or Undecided. You open the Mom’s Sewing box and you find forty darning needles, ten bundles of new yarn, and five new patterns – and all in good condition. Since you don’t knit, sew, or darn, you have no use for this stuff and neither does anyone else in your family – this is obviously a No Keeper, but now a Sell, Pitch, or Donate decision needs to be made. You ponder how would I actually sell this stuff? Garage sale, perhaps, but you hate even going to them much less hosting one. Maybe an ad in the local paper – not practical. You finally make a decision to Donate “Mom’s sewing” to Wear & Share. One box down, but it took a half hour. Decision making is not easy.
You open the Old Pillows box and immediately you are hit with a choking musty smell coming off each badly stained pillow. Nobody, not even those people who live under bridges would take these pillows. Clearly this box is a Pitch, but it leaves you wondering why you even bothered to hang on to these filthy cushions. Does this reveal that you might have hoarding tendencies?
You wonder how many other boxes and bags that you have about your place contain very similar unwanted and near worthless items such as old clothes, old house furnishings like bedspreads, towels, dishes, kitchen utensils, etc.. Perhaps you are not a hoarder but you may have cheapskate tendencies, not willing to throw this next to worthless stuff out, but hoping to sell it in your next garage sale.
As you continue to assess the many different items designated for disposal, other hidden quirks in your personality may also come to light. For instance, when you come to the box titled “Mom’s photo albums” your sentimentality is under the glass. If your first impulse is to just dump the box unopened into the dumpster behind the Recyling Center, you might be seen as hard-hearted at best. If, however, these large photos of precious relatives encased in frames bought at Woolworth’s in the 1930’s are important to you, and you look to preserve them, it shows you might have a tender side not known to others. You decide to remove the photos from their obsolete frames and paste them into an album that you can enjoy and then pass on.
It turns out that in shedding, the appraising and evaluating your earthly goods, these possessions can reveal much about your character, your values, your flaws and your virtues. Questions arise, such as “Why did I buy this? I didn’t need it and I never used it!”may reveal an impulsive bent, or you to be an unrealistic dreamer. Or, “How could I have spent so much of my time and money chasing after a golf ball or trying to catch a few fish?” might signal that you have a less than desirable priority list.
So go ahead, if you dare, and start shedding, and see what you find out about yourself.