Boxes, bins, bags. Stuff. Where does it come from? Stuff expands to fill the space. And when we run out of space at home we rent storage units. I wonder at the number of storage facilities I see springing up everywhere. Who stores all that stuff? And what is it?
Does anyone, besides the owners of storage unit facilities, consider the cost of storing stuff that is not used? Does storing stuff represent some form of security?
I mentioned the storage unit syndrome to a friend who noticed the same thing. “My in-laws have three storage units,” he said. “I asked my father-in-law, ‘Why do you keep all of that stuff?’ Know what he said? ‘I might need it.'”
“Spoken like a child of The Depression,” I said.
The eighty-three year-old father of another friend is a book hound. Every room of his large three bedroom house is filled with books, magazine, and newspapers stacked from floor to ceiling. The book shelves are flimsy and unstable. “Dad is not going to die from natural causes,” my friend said. “I will go to his house one day to find him crushed to death under an avalanche of books.”
When our mother had to be moved into a memory care facility in the last years of her life, my sister, brother, sister-in-law, and I sorted through her belongings. We divided up the things we wanted, certain memories for each of us. We set aside things we were certain Mom would want her grandchildren to have. Everything else we hauled off to Good Will. “I can’t get past the feeling,” I said to my brother, “that Mom is going to snap out of this. And then there will be hell to pay.” We laughed uneasily. There was a lot of stuff we couldn’t figure out why she kept. Maybe it is true: one woman’s treasure is another’s trash.
None of these is a scene I want to live out in my life. The disarray of my garage is minor compared to the situations described by my friends. Still, I am concerned about the possibility and determined to do something to prevent it.
I want less of everything. I want more time and freedom to enjoy not being tied down by stuff and the worry of storing it.
I decided to make this a project: Project Lighten Ship. This morning I made a trip to Good Will and left off two bins of kitchen stuff I no longer use, a large plastic trash bag of rags accumulated over years, a shredder that is jammed and no longer shreds. Good Will is happy to receive my stuff. I drove away feeling lighter. At home, I checked off another task on my “Lighten Ship” To Do List.
I’ll keep a record of my progress and check in periodically. I wonder if photos might offer an incentive for progress.