The stages of decluttering
The unpleasant and dreaded task of decluttering is something I read, discuss, intellectualise, and procrastinate until it becomes unavoidable.
How many times have I opened the closet to look for something, curse at the amount of stuff I have to wade through, and shut the door only to forget about it?
I have come to the conclusion that clutter is caused by indecision and irresponsibility. Collectors, insecure people, and variety-seekers are especially prone to the phenomenon called clutter.
As a clutter queen, I can say with a relative degree of confidence that hunters and gatherers accumulate what is to become clutter. The environmentally concerned will keep the clutter in hopes of re-using, recycling, restoring, and repairing it for future use.
Stage one in my decluttering process consists of quickly identifying those things that I never use and mean nothing to me. By default, such things will not be missed because I am not fond of them anyway. I simply have not made any conscious decision about them and kept them for no reason at all.
Selling them makes parting a bit easier. "At least I got some money for keeping the useless thing all these years!"
Stage two is about identifying those objects that are of sentimental value but may need to be parted for good reasons. Here I risk journeying down memory lane and getting all emotional about the past. Handwritten letters have become more precious now that just about every correspondence I get is electronic. Photographs, printed on paper rather than on the computer screen, are also becoming more valuable.
Should I keep the handwritten letter from my 21 year-old brother who wrote "-- oh by the way, I will need a suit soon. Don't worry, it won't be expensive" ? How hard it is for me to imagine him now with his walk-in closet full of pin-stripe suits and designer white shirts!
Should I keep photographs that contain myself, my friends, as well as that ex-boyfriend I want to forget? Or should I cut him out and keep the rest?
Should I keep new, unused, unwanted gifts from close friends? I always feel guilty selling them or giving them away under the pretense that I had thought of the gift idea. I have felt jilted and hurt when my sister told me how she cleverly disposed of expensive things I had bought for her.
Stage three -- hmmm --- I'm not there yet. If I can get through stage two in one piece, then I'll write about it.
3 November 2003 Monday