Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cleaning Up

I've been in a cleaning mood recently; for some reason, I'm more bothered than usual by the clutter that is a constant part of my life. I've been getting rid of some acccumulated detritus of life--a large George Foreman grill to Whitney, a stereo system to Jared, some speakers to Buck, a VCR/DVD unit to Charles, some unwanted AV equipment to Goodwill, a lot of clothes to various charities, several loads of miscellany to the trashcan--but I'm impatient to make more of it go away.

I'm resisting the urge to make a lot of clutter disappear quickly, because I know that what we dispose of in haste we may later realize was less disposable than it seemed. But the dichotomy can be confusing: I enjoy having the elements of my life at hand should I want them, but I resent the space that they take up.

As I've noted here previously,I'm more and more attuned to the idea that it's not the things themselves that bring me joy, but the memories that go with them... and I can enjoy those memories even if the things are not there. TAke my comics, for example: I haven't gone into the storage room to pull out any of my accumulated collection a single time since we moved into this house in 1996, but I still have the same fond memories of those books, as my "Life in Four Colors" series indicates. So what is the benefit of having them?

The same for records, and videodiscs, and VHS tapes that I'll never watch again. I keep them because at one point or another I bought them thinking that they were important to me, and I'm reluctant to admit that they're no longer so. Now I realize, though, that what's important is ephemeral; the fact that they were important once isn't negated by the fact that they're no longer important now, and the fact that I spent money on them once doesn't obligate me to keep them forever.

Ebay makes us think that everything should be measured by return on investment; I'm more awere now of return on enjoyment. If I enjoyed something once, don't enjoy it any longer, but know someone who might enjoy it more now, then why not make that joy occur? That doesn't make it a bad investment on my part, or an expenditure to be regretted; each item has an accrued joy that sometimes can only be recognized by others. My joy came in having it at the time I wanted it; that joy will always be there in my memories.

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