I can’t help it, I learned from experts. My parents grew up during the depression and WWII. They learned to be frugal and to hold on to things that might prove useful later on. This legacy was carried down by my brothers and myself. Hey, you never know – you might really need that Costco nut container! It’s heavy duty plastic and could hold…. well, good stuff. That piece of fabric, that wooden box, or for the guys, a motor or animal head might come in handy someday.
I have a closet (or two) with tomorrow treasures and unfinished craft projects. Things I intended to finish. Some of these projects are from the 90’s. Why? Will I really ever finish them? It’s like storing something in your fridge that you don’t really love until you eventually throw it out. You feel guilty trashing these things, but realize deep down in the recesses of your soul that nobody else would want them either.
Back in 1995, we moved out of state which forced us to simplify and get rid of a lot of
junk excessive appurtenances. Moving is a great way to purge things you realize that you can live without and don’t want to drag with you or pay for another moving van. After selling and giving away many things, we rented a dumpster, which at the time I believed to be way too big. It turns out, we actually filled the dumpster full. How could we have stored a whole dumpster full of stuff in our house thinking it was important?
I have a few theories. One is that we don’t want to be wasteful and that’s good. The opposite problem of hoarding that we see at times, is how disposable our society has become and also how convenience-minded. As an older generation, some things just make us shake our head. when we see things like pre-packaged hard boiled eggs or little packages of sliced cheese and lunch meat selling for twice the price of fixing it ourselves. Or buying a newer version of the same phone every year when they come out.
Another reason we have so many things, may be that society makes it very easy and affordable to grab every kind of convenience and latest fad imaginable. Shopping networks come right to our front rooms. If you have a Walmart or dollar store near you, then you are set for every holiday, birthday or any need imaginable. 100 years ago, people thought sliced bread in a bag or a light bulb was a wonderful convenience. Now I can purchase anything; dia de los muertos cookie cutters, a scarf in any color or a clock in 12 different styles, and yes, sometimes I do. Stores today no longer house basic canned goods and produce. On our way to get what we need, we find aisles and bins of what we may want.
Perhaps that is why I sit at a cluttered desk, as I type. With so many doohickeys that I hardly have room to work. Pictures, stationery, bottles , souvenirs, etc. are not just necessary things to have but can also have emotional ties that make it impossible to part with. With the many things we can accumulate, it can become overwhelming and add to our stress and difficulty to move on. I do notice when I take the time to declutter and simplify, I feel a bit liberated.
Recently we’ve been able to fly a lot, but it is on standby. We have learned to travel light, simply because we have to. I’m talking only one backpack or one carry-on, even overseas or even on a cruise. I’ve learned that I can get along fine with a lot less than I used to and it’s actually easier. I can actually fit quite a bit in one bag. I take the essentials, wash clothes if I need to and if an emergency arises, I’ve always been able to find a store. I don’t envy people fighting with suitcases the size of a fridge or keeping track of a luggage ensemble. It’s a bit liberating and has taught me to not worry so much about stuff but enjoy the experience.
I suppose the things we accumulate throughout our life are a history of us. Like ancient civilizations they tell a story of what we did and what was important to us. Hopefully ours won’t just be a history of televisions and cell phones.