I own too much stuff.
You might not think so if you were to visit my home. The walkways are clear, and surfaces are, in the kitchen and living room at least, mostly uncluttered. Open any closet or drawer, however, and you’ll see a whole new world, a world of overflowing tubs and precariously stacked shelves. Peek into what is supposed to be my office/craft room, an area intended to be an oasis for creativity, and you’ll discover a dumping ground, the place I stash everything I can’t fit anywhere else. Step down into the basement – if you dare! – and discover old furniture, a barely used treadmill, abandoned video games, and boxes and boxes and more boxes of stuff. (Don’t ask me what’s in them…I’m afraid to look.)
I don’t want to live this way. In an attempt to combat the situation, I donated a large bag of stuff to the Salvation Army store earlier this week (one of many donations I’ve parted with this past month), but the effect is indiscernible.
I don’t think of myself as a shopper – not in the recreational sense. I don’t engage in retail therapy; truth be told, I don’t even enjoy shopping. I hate garage sales. I used to be a sucker for antique stores, but I learned long ago that what looks “shabby chic” in the store simply looks shabby once it is transported to my own environs. I am immune to impulse shopping if only because my budget constrains that sort of behavior. So, what gives? Is my house spontaneously generating a continuous supply of useless junk?
Probably not, but it sure feels like it at times. I think my biggest problem is that I’m a saver. I have piles of baby blankets (my youngest is thirteen), copies of papers I wrote in college (I graduated in 1994!), and I’ve been gifted enough specialty kitchen items over the years to open my own store in the mall. (I prepare almost every meal I make with nothing more than a knife, spatula, and a wooden spoon, but I cling to the fantasy that I will someday use the melon baller I’ve owned for two decades.)
In an attempt to reform my pack rat ways, I began going through the house removing items I haven’t used in a year or more, and tossing them into a pile . Week after week, the pile has grown with items that don’t fit, were never used, or are simply unwanted.
I realize now that almost everything in this pile is there because of “just in case” thinking. Save those jeans just in case I lose ten pounds. Save these jeans in case I gain twenty. Save this crate of old jars and jugs just in case I find the perfect craft project. Save boxes and boxes of old, mismatched dinner plates and utensils just in case I lose my mind, and wake up one day as entirely different person who simply must host a thirty person dinner party.
I’m up to my ears in Just In Case!
You know what? I’ve never used any of that stuff. Most of the time I never remembered I owned it. Everything I saved for someday became quickly forgotten, sucked into the black hole of my cluttered basement, or stuffed into bins in the dark recesses of my closet.
I’ve decided to adopt a new motto: Just for Now – which means buying, keeping, and accepting from others only those things I truly need, and that are useful to me right now.
As for my old motto – Just In Case – I’m adding it to this weeks donation pile. I won’t be needing it anymore.