Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I'm typing this from my cluttered desk, which sits in my cluttered bedroom, which is part of my cluttered condo. As the recession marches on, I can't shake this gnawing feeling of guilt when I look at all the stuff I've amassed. It's stuff I shouldn't have an emotional attachment to, but for a series of weird reasons, I do. It's stuff I wanted, but mostly, didn't need (let's not even discuss how many pairs of black shoes I own, or Timbuk2 bags.) It's stuff that weighs me down, but stuff I just can't seem to ditch.
I bet you've got it too, in your closets, junk drawers, storage bins, and basements.
Many moons ago when I was packing my over-stuffed home preparing to move from Tennessee with whatever I could shove in my car and a rented SUV, I remember sorting through what would charitably be called a small mountain of clothing, books, and assorted crap that I couldn't take with me.
"What a waste," I thought as I shoved it into two-ply garbage bags and hauled it off to Goodwill. "What a waste of money. What a waste of energy."
Apparently, I don't have much of a learning curve.
I spent part of Saturday in a salon getting my hair dyed back to its natural brown. While I was sitting there thumbing through US Weekly, I began to pay attention to the woman sitting next to me.
"I started giving away five things every day," she said.
"Really?" asked her stylist.
By her math, this lady figured that if she gave away five things every day, she'd have gotten rid of some 500 items by the end of the year.
That's a lot of junk. That's a lot of physical and emotional cleansing.
"Wow, so do you watch Clean Sweep for inspiration?" asked another stylist, referencing the TLC show.
"I don't have a TV. I gave it away."
I sat there for a while and thought about what a radical idea this woman had. Sure, we're told charity is good and clutter can lead to chaos. But our culture doesn't really reinforce that. Stuff is status. Retail is therapy. We acquire things and that makes us, however briefly, happy.
Look around you. How much could you give away and not even notice? An item a day? Ten? It's a pretty phenomenal exercise when you think about it.
I think I might try it. You?