Several years ago, I decided to simplify and unclutter my life. I don’t mean from excessive noise, thoughts or difficult living, (whatever that is). I mean from junk. I realized that I had stuff I’d been saving, maybe even hoarding, for decades. It wasn’t that I had junk in my house or things that I had to crawl or walk over. No, I’m pretty neat and keep things in our home clean and orderly, (yes, from a military background). My issue was that I’d saved things from my past, mostly in the basement and garage, thinking that “one day” I might need them. As I surveyed my belongings like a king over his kingdom, I thought, Hmmm…I just may want to resurrect that 1990’s Walkman or open that box of clothes to bring out of retirement, (can you believe I actually found a pair of overalls I had from the late 1970’s???), or maybe even play some of those old vinyl record albums I still had! Oops…no turntable. However, once I found those overalls, I knew I was heading for my own reality TV show or possibly an intervention from my family. This all started about 7 or 8 years ago when we decided to move from one town to another while still living in New Jersey. I recognized that not only did I not need most of this stuff, I also knew that I didn’t want to lug it to a new home. Plus, I didn’t want anyone seeing me unpack that box containing the long broken “Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em Robots” game.
Man, did I have a problem or what?
Anyway, it was time to purge. So, I “purged & cleansed” by two basic principles. If I hadn’t used it in a year or the object(s) didn’t add value to my life, it was sold, trashed, given to Goodwill or an AmVets organization. Now, the “hadn’t used it in a year” principle is pretty simple, right? It was the “add value to my life” one that gave me trouble. Because, you know that people can justify keeping just about anything if they want it bad enough. That’s why it’s been an almost decade long process to finally rid myself of my junk.
When we simplify and unclutter our lives, we don’t have to hold court over our marginal possessions and they then have no control over us. They’re gone and we no longer have to guard them. There are things that, when saved or hoarded, cause us to lord over them and keep us attached in an unhealthy manner. When I first started purging, it was extremely cathartic. Then, it got harder the closer I came to getting rid of things to which I had an emotional attachment. I had to make rational and convincing arguments to myself that the things I was throwing away had no real value or that added no enrichment to my life. And, you know what?…not a thing I threw or gave away do I regret removing from my life. Not one thing. I can’t begin to tell you how it feels. It gives your life such a sense of freedom and release that you can’t imagine it until you’ve done it.
Today, my possessions include obvious household items, clothes (only in my closet), mountaineering & camping gear, photos, books and some personal articles. Other than what’s in the house, everything else we own fits in a very small storage room. And, I’m still cleansing from my life any extraneous possessions as I’m constantly on the hunt for them. Make a pact with yourself…get rid of the garbage. You’ll truly grow from the process.
So, here’s the plan…start small. It won’t happen overnight…trust me. Go into the garage, basement, attic, junk drawer or wherever your stuff is and root around. Once a week, spend a half an hour or so and purge. Put the stuff aside and decide what you want to do with it. If you feel overwhelmed, stop, and start again next week. Then, when you…
- That you no longer need
- That someone else may need more than you
- That adds no value to your life
- That you haven’t used in a year (other than holiday decorations).
- Throw them away
- Give them to charity
- Have a yard sale
- Sell them outright, (online or newspaper)
You’ll be glad you did.
Oh, one other little nugget…the thing about simplifying your life is that you can find some pretty cool stuff you didn’t know you had, but may be put to other good uses. What I did find (to my delight) were old photos of my brother in his youth. One of which was him posing for his 8th grade party in a powder blue tuxedo, bell bottoms and ruffled pirate shirt with all the trimmings. He looked like he was ready to perform a Vegas magic act. I was in heaven when I found this little gem and my mind reeled at the possibilities. Photos are the things you save (especially the funny ones), scan to your computer, then (while chuckling) email to people every now and then, reminding them how much you love them. And, I love my brother very much. You know, we do have to keep our siblings on their toes. I know this because my brother gets immense pleasure in reminding me that I’m 8 years older than he, (it’s actually 7 ½).
Which reminds me…where IS that box of pictures?