In last night’s post, I went on a bit about my attempts to start going through the strata in my office and throwing out things that I no longer use or need or want. The first strata is always the easiest. It mostly consists of dust, used staples, and slips of paper on which are written fragments of phone numbers. It doesn’t cause me much heartburn to throw out that sort of thing.
But then it gets harder.
Tonight I continued the progress I made last night, but this time I had to actually pull boxes out of closets and open them up to see what is in them. Pandora had nothing on me! She was a rank amateur. If she had opened up any of MY boxes, she would have said she wanted to go back to her condo and open up her own damn boxes. At least they only contained death, sickness, pestilence, telemarketers, and extended warranties.
The things I was pulling out of MY boxes put me squarely in a quandary. It’s easy enough to throw away an old collar stay for a Geoffrey Beene shirt I haven’t owned since the 1980s. It is quite another thing to pull out a medal I’d won in high school for getting first chair in a multi-state band competition. Can I throw that out? It was a momentous moment in my life. And yet, I haven’t thought of it in probably 25 or 30 years. So how important was it really?
And there was the medal I got for hiking 14 miles through the Shiloh military park when I was in Boy Scouts at around the age of 11. And the key to my first car (a 1969 Mustang that was already long in the tooth when I acquired it in high school … and which has probably long since been recycled into bits of refrigerators and iPads). The guitar pick with the Peavey logo on it that came with the Peavey electric guitar I bought with my own money in high school. The ticket stub to the Rush concert my older brother took me to when I was around 18. The boarding pass for the plane that took me to London for a summer study-abroad program I participated in when I was a sophomore in college.
How will I ever get my life simplified if, every time I pull a bit of detritus out of a box, I stand there, motionless, for half an hour, my hand poised over the trash can, debating with myself whether I should toss it or not?
Do I need any of these things? Absolutely not.
Do they serve any useful purpose whatsoever? No.
Does it make me happy knowing I have them tucked away? Not particularly.
So why is it so hard to toss them in the trash?
It’s like throwing away little pieces of myself.