Twist ties and soy sauce packets

Now that I’m back from my visit to Georgia and again have access to a real Internet connection, I’ve got to get back in the habit of posting regularly to this blog.  Please forgive the slow posting during the last month while I celebrated and stressed out about the holidays.

When I got home I found the latest copy of AARP The Magazine awaiting me.  In it there was a very interesting article called Conquering Clutter, that I was delighted to also be able to find online.  Even though I confess that I read it with my ex-wife Carole’s house in mind (it is always easier to see the “mote in thy neighbor’s eye” than to see the beam in your own), I realized upon reading it that I too suffer the same syndrome.  In my case this problem comes not from a hoarding tendency but due to laziness and a reluctance to actually engage in an activity that might even remotely be described as “cleaning,” but the effect is the same.  My house is filled with clothes I can no longer fit into, old computers that I can no longer use, greeting cards I have received through the years, drawers filled with twist ties, saved soy sauce packets in the refrigerator, and all manner of out-of-date and useless “things” that have accumulated due to failing to take out the garbage that builds up in a home over time.  Addressing this issue during 2007 is the primary New Year’s Resolution that I am making.  I have a large house, particularly for one person, so removing the debris that has accrued throughout my life should yield a lot more room for me to enjoy. 

The author of the article, David Dudley, relates an illustration that I think is worth calling to your attention here. He says,

“In Dante’s Inferno there is a circle of Hell reserved for two warring armies, the Hoarders and the Wasters, who spend eternity rolling enormous boulders at each other on a desolate sun-baked plain. The boulders are actually diamonds and represent the possessions they had such unhealthy relationships with during their lives. “Why do you hoard?” the Wasters shout. “Why do you waste?” the Hoarders scream back. This repeats, endlessly, joint punishment for their respective sins.”

Unfortunately, I fall into each camp from time to time.  I suppose I’ll be damned to being a substitute for each team throughout eternity, occasionally playing for the hoarders and occasionally for the wasters.  I have long believed that the first half of our life is spent in acquisition and the last half in divestiture.  “Things” are the prizes we gather because we think they will make us happy.  Yet they are often the burdens we must bear as our capacity to carry them diminishes with age. 


4 thoughts on “Twist ties and soy sauce packets

  1. Perry Post author

    Yeah, I’m terrified of the potential consequences of starting to clean things up around here. Who knows what kind of regrets I’ll have? 😉

  2. Jerry

    It is interesting that you would write about something that I have been thinking about also.
    Christmas seems to be about material things, and after Christmas when we are physically satiated (too many calories), we become aware of the total number of “things” we have around.

    Since many of the presents we get at Christmas are put in a drawer or closet and only emerge when accidentally disturbed, superfluous articles become conspicuous.

    I have clothes I have not worn (actually I could not wear them if I wanted to because I don’t fit into them) in years, and written material under stacks of written material I intended to read but never got around to reading.

    If I lost everything I had tomorrow, I don’t know if it would change my life except to lighten the burden of maintenance that seems to overwhelm me at times.

    We are enslaved by our possessions. Is it too late to become a Buddhist monk?

  3. Perry Post author

    Maybe our thinking coincides because of the similarity in our ages and, as you suggest, its being a time of the year when such thoughts occur. And perhaps it is due to our national tendency to get “fat,” not just in body weight but also in accumulating more and more possessions. If you read the link to “Conquering clutter,” you’ll notice a quote about the rise of the self-storage facility as being indicative of a national trend that began since the 1970’s. Bigger houses, bigger barns, bigger bellies, it all goes hand-in-hand, I fear.


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