A very important lesson and take-home message this month — don’t be afraid to throw away stuff you don’t need. Be ruthless.
I am just thankful I don’t own a farm or even an acreage. After doing a pretty serious cleaning of my garage and basement earlier this spring and throwing out stuff (bordering on, as well as beyond, junk) I’ve being saving for years, I came to the realization, “Thank God I don’t have five acres or it would be full of stuff.”
There is a TV series dedicated to hoarders and then there are occasional news reports of extreme cases — the person with 150 cats, and somehow the critters manage to push over a 10-foot-tall stack of newspapers that kills the homeowner. Alternatively, I can scoff or marvel at these bizarre lifestyle situations — and with a bit of self-righteousness think those people are crazy — but deep down inside the reality is I could be one of them.
There were a couple of recurring thoughts during my spring clean-up frenzy. First, “Why am I keeping this?” I’d come across a box full of stuff, or just an empty container, or a few odd-length boards I had not looked at in, not just weeks, but months, and, yes, even years, and I would have to ask “Why am I keeping this?” In most cases, I had long since forgotten the item(s) were even there. So, again, why on God’s green earth was I keeping this?
The other recurring thought: “I could put this really, really, really valuable thing back on the shelf, but one day I am going to be dead, my kids will be left to clean out the garage and it’s all going to the dump anyway. So, why am I moving it again and trying to make room? Just get rid of it.” The vision of what the kids would think of my treasures visited me several times.
I had several boxes of office files I had not opened in 15 years, and there were also some keepsakes from when my in-laws downsized their home, or died, and those items have been sitting in my basement for more than 20 years.
There were a couple of bags of slightly used ball caps, let’s face it, I might wear one cap three times during the year, a bundle of golf club handles with no club heads, a film camera in really good condition that has been obsolete for 20 or more years, and a milk crate full of various calibres of gun ammunition and empty shell casing for guns I didn’t even own that all trace back to that one day a dozen years ago when I had a great idea about how much fun it would be to learn to reload bullets. That’s as far as the plan got.
And does anyone else have one or six of those Rubbermaid containers full of really good clothes that don’t quite fit, but I am sure if I hold on to them, one day I can wear them again? Talk about avoiding reality. It would require at least five years of famine in Canada before I could dream of having some of that stuff fit. Get rid of it, let it go, someone at the thrift store can make use of it.
To be honest, there were a few items that really caused angst. They went from my hand, into the garbage pile, or recycle pile, or donation pile more than once. I’d throw it in a pile and then pull it out. “Maybe I should keep this. No throw it out. Well, maybe don’t throw it out, put it in the donation pile, maybe somebody can get some use out of it.” It was painful, but eventually the decision was made.
And oddly enough, perhaps an hour later, or certainly after a night’s sleep, I had forgotten all about it — I really couldn’t tell you what I had thrown out or recycled, but that only followed a gut-wrenching decision to toss it.
For some reason, I did hold on to my stock of Canadian Wheat Board magnets. I’m down to my last 15 or so, but if anyone is interested, email me your address and I will gladly mail you one and even throw in a new Grainews ball cap. The CWB was dissolved nearly nine years ago and I had these magnets well before that. I’ve no idea where I got them, and certainly no idea why I saved them. But I am definitely willing to share.
So, the take-home message — bite the bullet and toss it. It may seem difficult at the moment. But if you haven’t used something for six months, or six years, or certainly 16 years, let it go. After a good night’s sleep, you won’t even remember owning it.