Seniors: How to Rid Yourself of Stuff You Don’t Want

Feb 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

It simply has to happen.  Eventually, the collections, memorabilia, one of kind items, “just had to have it” stuff must be surrendered.  And, it ain’t easy.  For some reason our own identity gets wrapped up in what we own.  Much of who we are comes from what we have. 

I was in the home of a favorite friend just the other day.  He began, as we both do, taking me on a tour of his latest finds.  One of the pieces had come from an ancient streetcar.  The bell had been mounted on the floor and when it required ringing the engineer or conductor (his grandfather had been one) would step on the device that activated the bell.  It was designed much like those light dimmer switches in cars of the 40’s.  What a treasure, we exclaimed.  What a find, we agreed.  What a piece of junk, I thought.  But a wonderful piece of junk, with its own story.  That is what makes it so hard to rid yourself of the stuff you may want, but surely don’t need.

I have so many collections, and so does my friend, that each of our domiciles is a miniature Smithsonian.  And our guests, well we think anyway, always seem to enjoy our guided stories and vignettes and apocryphal accounts of where each item descended from.  Back in our minds, with the departing of every visitor, we know this just can’t go on forever, but with regularity we still discover, uncover, recover another “find.”  And off we go again in search of somewhere it can be tucked among all the other goodies that we just can’t live without. 

Collections are a way to keep history alive in your own life and household.  As long  as your partner cooperates and doesn’t mind a little dust, the collections begin, eventually, to be much like dandelions, proliferating and reproducing as if there is no end.  Collections are reminders of our own fondest memories and happy occasions, when one or another cousin or friend or uncle or grandparent showed us something unusual and mesmerizing, and then we were hooked.  Everytime I visit an antique mall my eye searches until it nudges something unfamilar out of the way in favor of a piece that reminds me “when.”  And, when I have sold or handed on some piece that was a favorite, I always regret it, particularly when I see another somewhere just like it.  It is fantasy that I could have all I have and all I have discarded, but it is fun and often brings a smile and sometimes even a tear.

In order to rid yourself of stuff you don’t want, you first have to convince yourself you don’t want it.  That is the hardest step of all.  I still remember having junked a bunch of my childhood toys, during adolescence, to prove I was moving on to manhood.  Manhood, be damned.  I still wish I had those toys, those memories, those mementoes.

And then I would have to figure out how to get rid of them…  because they are important only to me.

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