Nothing gets me in get-rid-of-stuff mode quicker than being unable to move because of too much clutter or having something threaten to fall on my head. This was the state of our storage shed a couple of weeks ago as I tried to put the last of our Christmas decorations away. It seems there are two basic approaches to storage space use: 1) a place for everything and everything in its place so that you can find and get to everything with minimal obstruction, or 2) cram whatever into the first available space nearest to the door and when you can’t find or get to what you need buy another one. These two approaches are as compatible as oil and water – at least for the one who subscribes to approach number one.
Frustration mounted as I found myself having to move a lot of stuff from one place to another in order to put one thing away. As this happened repeatedly I found myself getting aggravated (well, actually – mad). It’s amazing how focused I become and how much I can accomplish in a short time when I’m irritated (mad). After wrestling with several out-of-place items I looked around the overstuffed storage shed filled with things we haven’t used for years and thought, “it’s time to part with this “I wish I was” paraphernalia. Even though it has been pared down over the years, some remnants still remain. Remnants of things we dreamed of doing, planned to do or used to do but probably will never do again.
The “I wish I was a mother of six” box of home-school curriculum and baby clothes (I guess I’m holding out for grandchildren.)
The ancient “I wish I was still camping tent.” (Reality check. I do miss camping, but not in a tent!)
“I wish I was a Tour de France bicyclist.” (How many helmets does one really need?)
“I wish I was an expert home remodeler.” (No one in our family knows how to use this tool.)
“I wish I were partying with friends on our immaculate, summer-decorated back yard patio.” (The weeds are winning, our patio table got crushed by a tree, but I think I can repurpose these cute paper lanterns.)
“I wish I were sitting on the beach with my sweetheart” (Even if we go to the beach once a year we don’t sit much.)
“I wish I could still fit into these clothes.” (I will again someday, really.)
I find it hard to eradicate all items that were part of something that made special memories for our family – like raising our daughter or camping. We used to have a lot of camping equipment and have reduced it drastically one garage sale at a time, until now we just have our well-used tent (which I have used a couple of times in recent years). Periodically I reevaluate and realize, okay I can completely let go of this now.
There are a lot of things that I think would be nice to do, but I have to be honest with myself and figure out what I really want to do enough to actually do it. Am I really going to learn to use that roto-zip? Do I really want to reupholster another chair? No, not really. Sometimes my quest to de-clutter is blocked by the niggling fear that I might need that thing I got rid of and then I’ll experience regret. This has happened, but only a couple of times, like when I accidentally sold the remote control to our fireplace in a garage sale. Ninety-eight percent of the time I never miss what I’ve sold or given away.
The good news is I didn’t break anything or get knocked unconscious that day in the storage shed. I can also check off “reorganize the storage shed” from my summer to do list. It is quite freeing to realize when something has served its purpose and move forward. An item that is no longer needed can be passed on for someone else’s benefit. An activity can be enjoyed as a memory and new forms of enjoyment can be found for the current season of life. Being able to part with what has become clutter from the past frees me to embrace the present.
Now, time to tackle the bedroom closet.