Opinion: Of this, that and the clutter
Commentary by Terry Anker
The spectacular, if eerily unseasonable, weather led many of us to get outside and take advantage of it. With the calendar reminding that we have many weeks left of potential winter, it is too soon to do traditional spring projects like clearing the flower beds. So, our family took it to get a solid start on the ritual seasonal purging of our garage. Through the fall and winter months, it piles with assorted “treasures” – those things that have been deemed unworthy of an on-going place inside the house and yet too valuable, in some indecipherable way, to be put into the trash. Each spring, we find the resolve to shed ourselves of the accumulated debris – some to sell, some to friends or family, some to charity and even some to the dumpster.
There is a decided cathartic effect in moving an item from one place to another, on its journey out of our lives. We accumulate all manner of goods (books for our children, dresses for special days, trinkets from our travels) and hold them long after they have fulfilled their purpose. Our youngest, now 16, is more “Car & Driver” than “Nursery Rhymes.” At some point, long ago, his favorite books made it from the bedside table to a box in his closet. This winter break, he took occasion to empty the closet of non-essential gear to make room for the expected Christmas bounty. The children’s books, which had previously been imbued with some unknown significance, were deemed surplus (happily, he kept a few). Ultimately departing his room, they landed in a corner of the garage. Like river sediment, the books were stacked with other stuff and lost from sight. Today, they were unearthed and reconsidered. Tomorrow, they head to Goodwill. It takes time to distinguish clutter from prized possession. It feels good to know the difference.