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.