Monday, July 19, 2010

Is it true that "There's always room for one more"?

That old saw reminds me of one of my dad's favorite "jokes" about the farmer who lifted the calf every day as it grew so he could still do it when it was a full-grown bull. I never understood how this was a "joke." Maybe it made more sense in its original language (Pennsylvania Dutch).

My eventual conclusion: the farmer lifts the calf every day until one day he says: "I could still lift that calf - but I don't feel like it today."

Anyway, my son is living here with me for the time being and I have also happily taken in a very welcome long-term house guest. I want her to feel welcome so I'm trying to remove all the stuff that's crept into the room where she's staying in the years since Hannah left home.

My eventual conclusion: this house is like a super-saturated solution. There is stuff everywhere. When my houseguest adds her stuff, other stuff has to crystallize out.

So I've been shipping stuff out - to recycling, to Goodwill, to the trash. I've been moving shelves around and scowling at my possessions: why are there so many of them?

I've been reading about clutter control. One suggestion: pretend it's somebody ELSE'S stuff. Would I still really want 1,200 used file folders if they belonged to somebody else?

Actually a lot of them DID belong to somebody else. I helped an octogenarian friend de-clutter so she could move from a big house where she'd lived for decades to a small apartment in a retirement community. It was easier for her to part with her old file folders when I said I'd take them home. So now I have all my old ones AND all her old ones. Tomorrow, they're going OUT.

I am also using a new rubric: if it annoys me, I'm throwing it out. Some cookbooks with too much caked-on batter and sesame oil stains went out the door today. And a huge pile of LP liner notes with song lyrics, a pile I've had since long before there was - google. Out they go.


At 8:07 PM, Anonymous Ethan said...

(Long time reader, very infrequent commentor, toot toot.)

I am preparing for a cross country move and my mind-trick for clutter control - besides "if it don't fit in my Dodge Caravan, it doesn't make the trip" - is to imagine someone tending to my "estate" after my passing. Yeah, lots of this stuff is trash. And that's where a lot of it has gone, or is going. I do empathize with if not wanting to cling to "stuff" at least having pangs about the cost of acquiring it in the first place, but my mantra is simple these days:

"Mass is the enemy of thrust."

Happy cleaning!


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