A fellow declutterer asked me what I thought about how all this stuff accumulates. Funny. I’d just been rambling on about this with another declutterer …
On the one hand, there’s the legacy of our Depression Era forebears. Don’t Throw Anything Away. Ever. Someday We Will Need It !
And so the mountains: balls of string, pencil ends, paperclips, old newspapers, used wrapping paper, plastic bags, moth-eaten sweaters, archaic baby furniture….
Then there’s the legacy of post-depression affluence and protection against being “robbed by the fountain pen.” Crates and crates of proof: bank statements, tax forms, insurance policies, medical claim forms, stock transfers, receipts from major purchases… (Should we keep this stuff for one, five, seven, twenty years? Just keep it all for when THEY come asking.)
But what about us? What about the post-post-Depression generation? The post-paper age? The age, friends, of planned obsolescence…
We have an old computer. I mean like almost ENIAC old… Well, not quite.
It’s an old Mac. And it has some neat old software that might just fit the bill again someday. Hey… (Thinking of analogue turntables!!!) this thing might answer a freshly remembered need thirty years down the line. Or there’s the call of eBay….
That’s all an update on the familiar Don’t Ever Throw Anything Away loop.
But suppose we were to decide that we absolutely didn’t want this computer anymore, we have no room for it in our home, our newer ones completely answer all our computing needs, nobody is going to be interested in this computer ever again during our lifetime, it has become the bit of string begging a robin to weave it into its new nest.
A computer can’t be let loose in the back yard or set out with the trash. Because: ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION. (And to take it to the dump costs money. And they only take that stuff on certain days.) It’s So Much Easier to park it in a corner and forget about it.
Isn’t that the same with just about all the stuff lying around in corners now these days? Almost everything since the advent of batteries?
But there’s another thing about computers, televisions, hair dryers, eight-track players, roombas, graphing calculators, cell phones and vibrating loungers….
It’s just plain hard to say goodbye to the magical stuff that brought wonder, delight, comfort, and ease to our lives. Especially the stuff that cracked open new horizons. We loved all of it and we associate these tools with feeling happy and powerful. Those feelings do not evaporate easily, after we upgrade to newer, faster, lighter, more durable, more versatile models. Anybody remember having to say goodbye to their first car?
(Isn’t that forty year old crate of college textbooks — all the ones we didn’t ceremonially burn or quickly sell back — a badge of achievement? I still have my third edition Larson and Hostetler. And the student solutions manual…)