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Hoarding

Does anyone remember watching that TV show on A&E called “Hoarders”? The one that documents the struggles of people who can’t part with their belongings?

Each episode showcases family members going over to their relative’s homes and having to literally climb over mountains of old newspapers and video tapes just to get into the bathroom. For the life of me, I could never understand why people would let things get so out of control that they would just accumulate piles of crap and never get rid of it.

Today, I think I started to realize why.

I’ve been meaning to paint and re-finish an old three-drawer night stand but never got around to it. A night stand that has been with me for the longest time and over the years, through various events and moving to new homes, has become a repository for numerous papers and other things. Things that I had for the most part, completely forgotten about.

This past week, my brother offered to paint the night stand for me and I took him up on his offer. He would sand down the surfaces of the furniture and apply a fresh coat of semi gloss white. Prior to beginning the project, he made sure to empty out all of the drawers and place their contents on the bedroom floor. I must say that after completing his task, the night stand looks brand new.

The now completed project was also a welcome opportunity for me to throw out the useless “stuff” that had taken up residence in the drawers of my nightstand. I brought a garbage bag up to the bedroom with every intention of collecting non-essential items and tossing them.

The first thing I picked up was my iPad, something I always like to have at bedside just in case the mood strikes to read an article or check my email. Into the drawer it went. Next up was the Bible. Another mandatory requirement for any dresser (because you never know when you’re going to need it). So far, so good.

The third thing I picked up was a manilla folder that had “Biology 103” written on it. I opened it up and discovered that inside was my typed up college term paper from 1996. A college term paper that I had gotten an “A” on by the way. What the heck was that still doing there 16 years later? I proceeded to open the garbage bag and place the folder inside when a strange feeling came over me, and a little voice inside my head suddenly said:

“This was the only time you EVER got an “A” on a biology assignment. You should save it.” … Ok, I put it to the side.

Next up, a collection of birthday cards that for some ridiculous reason I had saved from my 30th birthday. That’s right, birthday cards from 1999. As I re-read them, I started to remember all of the people who had sent me birthday salutations; some of whom I am no longer in contact with. I began to get sentimental.

At that moment, the little voice chimes in again and says: “But, you only turn 30 once in your life… certainly you want to save these, right?” … I have to admit, it took quite a bit of effort, but the cards eventually went into the garbage bag.

Next, an old Day Timer from 1993. Now, you’ve got to be kidding me. A scheduling planner from NINETEEN-NINETY-THREE?? What the heck?? Certainly, this has to go. But before I threw it out, I just had to take one last look. Sure enough, I saw all of the scheduled events I had filled out from almost 20 years ago.

Little voice: “Do you really want to throw away and forget everything you did in 1993?”UGH, this is really starting to get difficult.

Other things I discovered:

A bunch of owners manuals for electronic devices that I no longer even own.

A Penn State calendar from 1987 (My first year in college).

A notebook filled with song lyrics and poems I had written from 1985.

I suddenly began to have empathy for those people on Hoarders who just kept everything. It’s hard throwing away memories.

I was finally able to commit myself to tossing anything that was from 2010 or later and, staying true to my word managed to throw most of it away. I tied up the garbage bag tightly, and put it out in the garage. By committing to a date range, deciding on what to throw away was easy.

The hard part now is going to be ignoring the little voice and not going out to retrieve it all before the garbage man comes on Monday.

Wish me luck.

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About James Wood

Influenced by life, love and the pursuit of the perfect song is what best describes my passion. I’m a closeted classic rock/metal-head from the 80′s who loves to write.

Posted on September 22, 2012, in Thought and Opinion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. :o)

    Clearly, you are NOT a hoarder! You would never, ever have been able to clear that one dresser out in one evening…EVER! I feel for you, though!

    My mom was a hoarder, though not to the extreme on the tv show because she was also a clean freak, so nothing was ever dirty…she dusted her piles of junk. However, she brought SO much of it with her to my house when she moved in with us and that was AFTER my sister made her get rid of things back in Palmer. What an unbelievably hard chore to go through it all when she died!

    I use Hoarders, the show, as motivation to clean, when I’m really not in the mood. It works wonders!

    • It was definitely a difficult thing to do, that’s for sure. I can see (on a very small level) how people can let things can get so out of hand. For example, the good feelings I got looking at those 30th birthday cards…. wouldn’t I want that experience to happen again fifteen or so years from now when I stumble upon them again? (Uh oh, there’s that voice again…haha)

      It really makes me afraid to go see what’s been accumulating in the crawl space of the basement…

  2. I must say i can relate on many levels,especially saving cards. I am very pleased that i did save some special ones ………as i lost a dear friend of mine last august. I now treasure her special cards and notes she wrote to me………………..

  3. I definitely feel your pain. I have a REALLY hard time letting go of things like you found in your night stand.

  4. Nice post! I am completely agree with you.Thanks

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