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  • Writer's pictureBetty Girardeau


In the last few months there have been five homes sold and vacated by their previous owners in my neighborhood. Recently this has often been the view on the night before trash pick-up, which leads me to think again about how much "stuff" we all accumulate. We have too much. And I am definitely including myself. I try to go through my clothes closet at least a couple of times a year and collect garments that I no longer wear and donate them to charity. When I do, I usually add in some household items as well. But I still know that I have too much stuff. Why do we collect so much, and why is it so hard to part with it even after we realize that we will probably never use it again (if we ever did anyway)? When I look at what I have and think about what so many others don't have, I feel both embarrassed and guilty. I have lots of storage space in my kitchen, for example, and almost all of it is overflowing. I was recently telling myself, as I tried to jam something back into a cabinet, that I really should take a day to clean out those cabinets and decide what I should keep and what I should take to the local Habitat Restore. It seems so hard to give up some of our collected stuff. "Maybe" I will need or use it again...someday. Or there may be some kind of deep personal connection to it, like it was a gift from a thoughtful relative or friend, making it hard to part with it. But there it is, gathering dust and taking up space. And, truth be told, someday, if we don't do something positive with it, someone else will have to decide what to do with it when we are gone. I personally prefer to recycle things to those who might need or want them rather than filling up garbage bags and the local dump with them. But when I do consign some of my stuff to the trash, I sometimes wonder what archeologists uncovering our buried trash will think about us and our twenty and twenty-first century life styles. Will they recognize us as what we really all are, collectors of too much stuff that we later just toss away when finally we just have to do so? I know that whenever I have done a good cleaning out of my things, I usually feel really good, both mentally and physically. It's kind of like how you feel when you have lost the weight you wanted to lose. But then, what begins to happen after that? Well, of course, we get more "stuff"!

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