This weekend, I filled two Hefty bags full of my belongings I was “hanging on to” and threw them away. It was the beginning of my push to rid myself of the clutter I’ve been accumulating for more than half of my life. Hoarders usually keep things because they are terrified that they will be deficient in some way because they don’t have these things: they will forget, they will need it as soon as they throw it away, they don’t want to be wasteful… (I don’t think you need to worry that I am going to hoard myself into a single room of my home. No, I keep my clutter fairly tidy – I have not impaired my mobility or anything that would qualify us as having OCD by the DSM-IV.)
I keep things because I feel like throwing things away will mean that I am going to forget the memories they are attached to. The irony is that I’m an unsentimental person saving years of sentimental objects. I have saved hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper tracing my journey through this mortal coil recounting that I don’t even look back at and events that I don’t pine for. Perhaps I never miss any of these past experiences because I know that the physical evidence is safely tucked away in boxes, ready for me whenever I need to call on them.
I shared an office with someone (Lovely Wedded Co-Worker, if you remember), who was exactly the opposite. She never hung onto anything. Every few weeks or so, she would go around her apartment and discard vast amounts of “trash” away. Her position was that it was all just meaningless stuff – stuff that she didn’t need. I’m not sure how it happened, but I woke up one morning and came to the conclusion that it was time to do the same. I am not defined as a person by a movie stub from a forgettable movie from three months ago. (I plan on saving some of the sentimental things that are truly sentimental to me, and even scanning things and saving them digitally – a myBook takes up a lot less room than three cardboard boxes full of letters from my high school boyfriend.)
My friend, K can’t wait to get elbows-deep into my boxes of stuff and help me throw things away. Her husband and I laugh that she and I are dating: we’re getting through the honeymoon period and now she wants to throw out all my stuff. But I say that with a certain amount of my tongue firmly embedded in my cheek. I’m ready to be cleansed of my stuff in an effort to not only metaphorically weigh less on this earth, but to streamline my life and to take a big leap on emotionally maturing.