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Monday, January 9, 2012

Possession Obsession

What is with our obsession to possess things? A better question is why do we hang onto things instead of letting go? Maybe this doesn't apply to you. Just me.
Books are my biggest problem. I love to read. I have to read, even if it's only a couple of paragraphs before I go to sleep. I have my favorite books, my "keepers". Then, there's the TBR pile. All those books I have yet to read. How did I get all those books that I haven't read? Many were free books. I remember my first writers' conference. Holy cow! They gave away books! There were books on our chairs in the dining room. There were books—free books, lots and lots of free books—in the Goody Room and in the publishers' suites. I couldn't resist. I've been to a lot of conferences since that first one. I'm more discriminate now about what I take. But still... Even if I read all day every day, it would take years to read all those books. But, wait. I don't just read a book once. I reread my favorites. I can't part with my favorites.
Consequently, my bookshelves overfloweth.
This doesn't just apply to books. DVDs. I love movies. Almost as much as books. At least, DVDs are smaller than VCR tapes. I had hundreds of those. Like books, I have my favorite movies. I'll buy a DVD of a movie I didn't get a chance to see when it came out. I'll buy a DVD of a movie I did see when it came out. Some movies I have to watch two or three times to "get" it—like Inception. I have "tunnel vision" while watching a movie. Somehow, my brain can't take in everything. While watching the main action, I often miss what's happening on the sidelines. Getting the DVD helps me see the whole picture. Besides, even with 700 channels (slight exaggeration) there are nights when there's nothing on TV so we'll watch a DVD.
Again, my shelves overfloweth. I know, I know. I could use the library and rent DVDs. But, I don't.
Then, there is paper. I'm often overwhelmed by the amount of paper in my life. I know the adage about handling a piece of paper only once. Hah. Easier said than done. I'm getting better but still... It's almost a cliché to say that computers were supposed to eliminate paper. Hah, again. Computers create more. What happens if the computer crashes? We have to have backups. I've heard too many stories from writers whose computer seized up and even the experts couldn't retrieve the contents. Or, worse, the backup drive (or memory stick) was corrupted. With a paper copy, at least the work isn't totally lost. And don't forget research. Copies of computer articles, newspaper clippings. The list goes on.
It's not just writing that creates paper. We're told to save anything related to our tax returns. Okay, but what about the closing papers on houses we've bought and sold? Paid utility bills, credit card receipts and statements? Letters and cards from family and friends? What's important and necessary? What's sentimental?
My file cabinets (note the plural) overfloweth.
Clothes. We hear all the time about how to manage our clothes. If I buy a new blouse, I should get rid of one. Yeah, right. How can I get rid of a perfectly good piece of clothing? Am I the only one who thinks I'll lose the weight and be able to wear that (fill in the blank—dress, slacks, shirt) again? I still have a dress from thirty years ago when I was at my smallest. Will I ever wear it again? Not in this lifetime. I'm saving it for my grandkids to play dress-up. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.
My closets overfloweth.
When we lost two loved ones, we gained the contents of their condos. Lucky us. Yes and no. Both women were savers. They had some very nice (read, expensive) things. And they had junk, as in "I might be able to use that someday" stuff. At 102 and 100 when they died, they had a long time to accumulate things. Plus, they were hugely influenced by living through the Great Depression. Waste not, want not was the motto they lived by. Good advice, unless you're talking about plastic take-out containers and many times reused food storage bags. Those were the easy things to dispose of. It took two years before I could even deal with all their "stuff" that filled my garage, basement, and dining room. My children took what they wanted. Despite many pleas, I couldn't foist any more things on them. They were the smart ones. I did have a massive garage sale and donated a ton of stuff, but I still have way more dishes and kitchen equipment than I need. And don't get me started on cookbooks. Even my son, the chef, doesn't want any more of the ones I have.
As you can see, possessions are overwhelming me. Last week, I wrote about setting goals and making a plan of action on how to accomplish the goals. After I posted the blog, I followed my own advice. I picked the areas of my life that I want to change. I think living healthier (note, I didn't say just lose weight) will be easier than disposing of possessions.
But, I'm willing to make the effort. That's a start. A friend wrote on someone else's blog that she was going to purge her office. I thought what a great word. Purge. Totally expresses what I need to do with my bookshelves, file cabinets, closets, kitchen, basement, garage. That just sounds overwhelming. Taken in small doses, steadily through the year, it's doable. If I tell myself that enough times, maybe I'll believe it.


  1. Oh, this all sounds so familiar! My life also overfloweth. I am working on my office, but in the process, my poor living room couch overfloweth. :) I'm getting lost in the. . .undertoweth!

  2. I hear you! My bed is almost completely supported by my backlist copies. I'm thinking of making endtables out of the DVD stacks. I did get a good scanner so I can copy all the paper bills and receipts and save them on a thumb drive (my 9-to-5 is now paperless and it's wonderful!). I also just donated 7 (!) bags of clothing in a closet reclamation. The Kindle app is helping with the book overflow but...there's just something about holding a book in your hands. Sigh. Perhaps I'll put a laminate slab across them for a dining table!

  3. Patrish & Nancy, your comments made me laugh. I'm not quite ready for an appearance on Hoarders but it's getting close. I love my Kindle and it is helping with the bookshelf space...some. Thanks for commenting. Misery loves company. :)

  4. I love stuff! I spend all my spare time searching for unique artifacts from days gone by. Imagine a century of stuff to ruffle through! I get dizzy thinking about it. : )

  5. I guess a lot of us can relate, Diane. I still have boxes in my basement and garage from our move over 4 years ago that I still haven't gone through. I've had bags of donations riding around in the back of my van for over a month because I never have time to take them to the thrift store. And the books! That's another whole story. I keep saying I need to call a moratorium on book-buying, but then I see one I just have to have. Yep, sure can relate.

  6. I'm so glad I'm not the only one buried under my mountains of stuff. I did manage to find my dining room table in time for Christmas dinner, but I've never mastered the art of having ALL the rooms in my house clean and uncluttered at the same time. But like you, I'm trying, a little at a time. Let's revisit this topic from time to time and see how we're progressing, shall we?

  7. Count me in as another who can relate. All I have to do is change a couple of facts in your post, Diane, and I would have one to put up on my own blog. I, too, have carted around bags of donation stuff for weeks before dropping them off.

    We had a flood a few years after moving into our new house. I had unpacked boxes downstairs and, to this day, except for my wedding gown, I have no idea what else we lost.

    I like Patty's idea. We should revisit this topic periodically to see if there is hope for any of us.


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