I ended my last post by asking what can motivate a would-be declutterer to commit to decluttering.
Experience suggests that the strongest commitment arises from moving house. No buyer will pay a decent price for a house full of clutter. No landlord returns a deposit if the rental isn’t cleared out. Money talks.
My cat and I lived in a rental townhouse with two basement rooms: one for laundry, and a windowless “playroom” which turned out to suffer from a damp external wall during spring and summer.
I installed a washer and dryer in the laundry room but the other room was useless. So there I stashed stuff. With that damp wall, I wasn’t going to put anything actually useful down there besides, maybe, my out-of-season car tires.
I was in that townhouse only three years. But if you are reading a blog about decluttering, you can imagine what piles of useless, difficult to deal with stuff can build up even in that short a time.
I had old car parts, components of failed do-it-yourself furniture projects, ragged clothing, rusting lawn furniture, an old futon, exercise equipment, a broken down old bicycle and still-wrapped packages of bankers’ boxes and bubble wrap from an earlier move. It was an active three years, don’t you think?
As my move approached and I began to feel the pressure to declutter, a friend told a tale of how her kitchen range had caught fire. It was a tale for the ages which ended with everyone safe and the blackened range smack in the middle of her front lawn. She admitted to being torn between gratitude and profound aesthetic annoyance.
Within an hour, an old pick up truck pulled up to her house and the driver asked whether he might have that burned out hulk.
Yes, he understood that it was no longer a working range. Yes, he wanted to remove it right then and there.
“Ma’am,” he said, “I can get enough money for that scrap to fuel my truck for a week.”
I got to thinking.
Before the next trash collection I hauled up that box of old car parts and neatly laid it beside my garbage can. Before the truck came scavengers had taken them and put their box with my recyclables. Decluttering had begun!
Successful repeats dispersed all the scrap metal and some of the plywood. May it all be a blessing to someone.