I used to wonder why on earth my parents kept so much junk. Their basement was full of stuff, the closets were full, the garage was full, the attic was full, even the sheds seemed so stuffed with stuff there wasn’t room for any more stuff. Mom kept sacks of old food containers stacked around the kitchen, plastic cups, Styrofoam plates, plastic cartons. Dad kept jars of old screws and other fasteners, boxes of parts and wood scraps. Mom had her areas of storing and stacking and Dad had his and then there were the areas of mutual collecting and storing. Their house was never the nightmare of hoarding that I have seen on TV shows but it was, nonetheless, full of stuff.
I helped my oldest brother, Richard, inventory one room in the basement after Dad’s funeral. After looking through a bunch of boxes, drawers and shelves and shaking my head again and again and wondering, “Why in the world didn’t he just throw this away?” I decided that my home was never going to be like that. When I got back to Saint Joe and looked around in my garage and then walked through the basement, I realized I was too late; it already was like that.
I have boxes filled with tools I might need some day, material that will come in handy some time, hardware items that would save a trip to Lowes, and other stuff that just “looks cool.” The walls of the garage are almost completely concealed by stuff I’ve stacked on shelves and half of the basement is in the same state. Then, there’s all the storage space over in the basement and garage at the rental property that is filled with all kinds of things!
It’s an interesting moment when we finally realize that the very thing we criticize about someone else is part and parcel of our own life, our own character. What is even more interesting and important is what we do once we’ve achieved that realization. Either we perceive that other people’s stuff is just as important to them as our stuff is to us or we decide that ours truly is more important than theirs. In rare cases, we might begin getting rid of the clutter.
And, in the most exquisite and precious moments, we realize that we are talking about our hearts and minds and lives, not the stuff in our closets.