Why is it when we collect clutter we don’t want to let go once something is ours, and even though the four reasons I came up with are positive, the results of holding on are always negative.
Because of our creativity, we often get things we think we’ll use, but end up not wanting to follow through with our clever thoughts. Often, we’ll keep something, just in case we’ll need it or can think up another use for it. I noticed when I was getting my gardening tools ready for spring, that I still have all the stuff I bought to bonsai some trees. I got the soil, the cutting tools, and the precise kind of planters for my bonsai projects. I was also on a honeymoon with the idea of having bonsai plants in my yard and gardens.
Six years ago, I took one lesson at Tsugawa’s Nursery that has the most beautiful bonsai trees I’ve ever seen. They’re master bonsaiers! Their little Christmas Village trees are way out of my price range! Who can pay $679 for a teeny, weeny cedar tree, even it is 216 years old?
Since I have old growth cedar trees that throw their babies everywhere on our property and I’m always pulling them up like weeds, I decided I’d start bonsaiing them! I should have known, I was in over my bonsai head, because I knew the people at this nursery are steeped in bonsai tradition, and it sure didn’t come naturally to me like it does to the Tsugawa’s.
I killed every one of my cedar victims, but did I get rid of my stash of bonsai tools? No, because in the back of my mind, I figured I just might get a Tsugawan urge to try again!
You’ll be glad to know I’ve boxed up the stuff and it’s on its way to the Salvation Army where it will soon be in the hands of someone who has a knack for miniaturizing trees.
I think there’s a lot of optimism in the owner of this boats mind. He’s a casual acquaintance and I know he’s in his seventies. His boat hasn’t moved in the last eight years, and you can tell from how it’s being taken care of, that it’ll take a lot of TLC to get it back on the water.
I’m sure the optimism of “someday we’ll take it out,” is very strong or a decision would have been made to dump the boat. The optimism of someday plays a tricky role here. It’s often hard to admit when something is over and there’s no manual for us to go by. I Googled, “How long should you own a boat if you don’t use it?”and Google couldn’t tell me, in fact it changed the subject on me. Even it doesn’t want to face letting go.
So how long should you hold onto something you’re not using? I would say on big items like boats, cars, trailers and such, one year is enough. Big stuff is no different than the little stuff, in that it becomes invisible, in about two months.
It’s hard to say goodbye to something that gave you joy, but when it’s over, baby, it’s over and the sooner you realize it the sooner you can find the joy that’s in right now.
You are like The Price is Right when it comes to remembering what you paid for your stuff… especially the stuff in the four figures and up category. It’s hard to part with something you paid a lot of money for and won’t get what it’s worth back on Craig’s List. So often we don’t let go, because we’ll feel we’ve lost money. This little sports car was really something in its day and the elderly owner is passed his mid-life crisis phase. On some level he knows that the sports car part of his life is over and what’s left of the car is worthless. Since he can’t face that, the car will be an eye-sore to everyone who passes by it. In fact this man has five cars in varying degrees of decay in his yard.
Curiosity is a wonderful attribute, but when it keeps us holding onto things, just to see what’ll happen, we’ve got a problem. I’ve done it with Tupperware containers of leftovers in the fridge. First, there’s the overlooked phase, second, there’s the “oh that’s still in there” phase, third, there’s the fear phase and fourth, there’s the “I wonder what it’ll do next phase, and that curiosity is a kin to lab researcher’s curiosity.
I used to be offended by this ghastly house trailer, because it stands at a turn into where we live. “Just turn left at the collapsing house trailer, blah, blah blah.” I’ve gone from disgust to curious (but it took about ten years) as Mother Nature works her slow and steady demolition.
Behind all these positive attributes, creativity, optimism, frugality and curiosity, holding onto anything that doesn’t serve you now is negative and clutter is the greatest destroyer of peace in your homes.
P.S. Thousands of disorganized women have benefited from my new book The JOY of Being Disorganized. To see if it will help you I want to give you a free chapter.