On kind of a meta note: To some extent, I think de-cluttering involves recognizing that regret is part of life, and being OK with that. Yes, I’ve given away books that I now often wish I still owned. But I’ve also screwed up relationships, made iffy career choices, etc. — you suck it up and move on. If you try to cling to everysinglething (material, spiritual, or emotional) that you might need one day in the totally hypothetical future, you’re going to end up bogged down in a lot of stuff.
Doing research for some posts today, I stumbled upon this comment and it made me stop and think for a while. I thought I’d share it here and see if it speaks to anyone else. I’ve always been a bit of a pack rat. As a kid I used to keep receipts and other random pieces of junk from what seemed to be special occasions at the time. I would save them in shoe boxes. When one box filled up I would find another, and now I have about five boxes of stuff, representing five different ‘periods’ of my life. Now, I’ll admit that it’s kinda neat now to open one of these boxes and see the things I’ve saved. Many of the objects have lost all their significance to me, through the passing of time. Some I remember the feeling associated with them, but can’t remember the context. And then there are others, like programs from shows, that are a lot easier to remember.
At this point it’s fun to look at these things and reminisce. But I used to be very easily depressed as a kid, and looking at many of these things would make me very sad in earlier years. And luckily, with time and help I’ve learned to deal with letting go of things better and to move on. Some things are still difficult, but it helps that I don’t save every little scrap of paper anymore.
Anyway, this comment spoke to me, because it doesn’t just talk about holding onto things that have a significance to you. It also mentions the value of getting rid of things that you think might be useful in some hypothetical eventuality. This is something I haven’t quite mastered yet. For example, I still own one of those converters that you stick into your car’s tape deck so that you can play your mp3 player on your car stereo – I DON’T OWN A CAR! What use do I have for this? I could argue in my defense that I visit home fairly frequently, and that when I do I drive my mom’s car. But I have never, ever, ever, ever brought the converter with me. I always listen to the radio when I drive. It’s just simpler.
Anyway, I’m inclined now to make a personal resolution to be more vigilant about not hanging onto things that are more hypothetically useful than actually conceivably useful. But before that I wanted to devote some thought to: ‘what’s so bad about holding onto stuff?’ Thoughts?