“As family members have long asserted, an accumulation of ordinary stuff does contribute to seniors’ reluctance to move, a new study finds.” ... News item.
I saw this story in the New York Times right about the time I was trying to clean out some bookshelf space. I needed room for more books because, well, one needs more books.
It was not easy. I love those old books. Each is a story, an idea, an experience. I have an entire shelf just on the Civil War..
Yes, I did read Shelby Foote’s massive trilogy. No, I probably won’t read it again.
But get rid of it? You never know when some fine point about the Battle of Chickamauga will need settling.
And it’s not just books. It is amazing how much stuff just shows up.
I am not a hoarder. I don’t have little paths between piles of newspapers. My kitchen isn’t hip deep in empty beer cans. I do not, as I have seen at estate sales, have four staplers, 12 rulers or 300 pens.
I try to keep things in perspective, except for cameras and yo-yos, of which I do have many.
“What about the typewriters?” says my wife.
OK, yeah. Five typewriters. They’re cool.
“And the bicycles,” she says.
It is true, I didn’t need the fifth bicycle. What can I say? It was a nice bike, at a good price. I couldn’t pass it up.
And besides, the article says “possession paralysis” keeps people from moving. Bicycles help you move faster.
I’m an American and Americans are the world’s biggest consumers. Before the recession, a full 70 percent of the national economy consisted of us buying stuff, most of which we didn’t need, and taking it home.
This is why the country has 2.3 billion square feet of rentable storage space, most of it full of junk, or worse.
It is scary what some people store. A couple years ago local police found explosive chemicals in the unit of a former ATK Space Systems scientist. Last week a guy bought the contents of an abandoned storage unit in Florida and found preserved human brains.
Stuff in storage isn’t what causes possession paralysis. It’s all the stuff lying around the house. Between the emotional strain of sorting out cherished objects, and the physical labor of actually carrying that junk out the door, many would rather not.
I caught a hint of this when we had the entire top half of the house renovated. This required clearing everything out to the walls.
“No sweat,” I thought. “There can’t be that much.”
Books, boxes, records, radios, desks, divans, sofas, shelves, chairs and catch-alls filled one of those big storage pods they park in your driveway.
It took a week, mostly because my wife’s co-worker — me — turned out to be something of a jerk in the “Can I trust you to clean out the closets?” department. Who knew we had so many coats?
Our marriage survived, but I am more determined than ever to never move that stuff again. Let the kids deal with it after I’m gone.
“Give it to them now,” you say.
Sadly, both sons take after their old man in one respect: They already accumulate stuff and, like me, have wives who put up with them.
I tried to give some excess books to my elder son, but the look I got from his wife stopped me cold.