Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the stuff that I’ve kept over the years… especially old notebooks from my years as a newspaper reporter, half written in Gregg shorthand, which would take me forever if I tried to read it.
Searching for information from thirty years ago, or more, has been my pastime for two days…prompting me to tackle really scary piles of boxes, a rusty old filing cabinet, numerous hiding places that were filled when I moved from next door into this house. Since it wasn’t a formal move, with moving vans and all that, packing was informal in that kitchen shelves of things would move entirely onto corresponding shelves in the new house.
This is not optimal–because moving tit for tat eliminates one of the perks of moving an entire household from one place to another, which is to go through things and give them away…or donate them to a dumpster. One of the great joys of housekeeping is to discover all the clean, dust-free surfaces in cupboards, closets, and basements or their equivalents. The happy vision of an entire new outlook of organization and planning new systems that will facilitate the old “a place for everything, and everything in its place” adage takes a lot of the drudgery out of moving.
So some of these boxes and cans and crates of things have been moved numerous times over the past half-century. Some are in the same boxes that originated in an army commissary in Germany back in 1957. Most are accumulations from later years.
In my experience the brave notion to take these boxes one at a time and “sort things out” is admirable, but what actually happens is that anything removed from a box usually goes right back in it — because it has been hauled around so long that it reaches the status of “things that cannot be gotten rid of” …for various reasons such as sentimentality, the kids made it, it was Mother’s or Grandmother’s, a wedding or anniversary gift, or “it’s still perfectly good, and it might come in handy some day.”
There is no good reason, or any reason at all in fact, for keeping boxes of old utility bills. There is no law anywhere that states that we must keep anything any of our children ever wrote, drew, colored, glued, or built in shop class.
My greatest fault (and that’s saying a lot) is keeping and storing stuff…potentially forever. I am especially bad about keeping NOTES from my newspaper days (when I had a good reason for keeping clippings because I got paid upon physical evidence of each item I ever wrote) and Notebooks. Also my collection includes every notebook I ever had in every class during twenty years at the universities–but these are in big loose-leaf notebooks arranged in order and by topic. Fabric…we won’t go there, except to say that I used to sew.
Now the dilemma is–what to do with all this stuff when I finally die? When it comes to that, I have no control over who does what with my stuff. I do have little notes in Grandma’s china and glassware, warning against disposal.
Sure, my blog…what is it but a virtual pile of boxes of stuff? That of course is out of my control, and what happens to my writings and carryings-on after I die will no longer be my concern. I am driven to empty all of my accumulated knowledge and nonsense OUT of my head and into my computer…and on out into space, I guess.