last week I was “warmly invited” (to use a euphemism) by my father to take care of what I left in his rumpus room since my marriage. Given that nine years have passed since that delightful day, I figured out that I better started working before some draconian measure were taken about my possessions!
Even before I showed up for the task, I knew I’d to defeat one of my dearest enemies, one that paralysed me many times during similar works.
Not fear of failure, nor of the enormity of the task. Not guiltiness nor shame.
For a good definition, you can look at the omnipresent Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nostalgia?wprov=sfsi1
Have you ever felt the overwhelming sense of nostalgia when picking up an item related to your childhood? To your first house? To a lost loved one? Well, I can feel like that even for ridiculous objects. Moreover, I can spend dozens of minutes trying to figure out where that little piece belonged to. Or I find myself reading entire chapters from some book I rediscovered (I remember a long afternoon spent reading for the third time the second half of Dune by Frank Herbert…)
Then, suddenly, an intuition: maybe I am too focused on care and emotions, and I should keep in mind purpose as well. Did something serve a purpose? Is that purpose over? If so, I can throw away something with no purpose!
But then, even if the purpose is over, what about the emotional content of an object?
….ten more minutes passing, try to figure a guy cycling endlessly through an old bag, a closet and a few piles of rubbish without doing anything at all…
Second intuition: has the purpose changed? I mean, maybe the purpose of that old toy (to make an example) was to keep my quiet for a couple of hours way back when I was a child, and now this purpose is of course over. However, now I could pass that toy on to my kids: I could share it with them, use it to teach them something, use it to channel feelings and emotions. In this case, I could keep it (maybe with a “repurpose”); otherwise I can scrap it.
Another example: what was the purpose of that funny gadget? It served as a funny enhancement for a costume. Is the purpose over? Yes, but when I look at it now, I have warm memories of a lost friend. This gives it a new purpose, one that is even more valuable than the previous one.
Obviously, not everything is to be kept: what was the purpose of that old ugly cable phone? To communicate. Do I need it again? No. Ok, there is the trash can! Same goes for some magazines, items, miscellaneous pieces of technology…
You see? Thinking in term of “purpose” or of “new purpose” gives me not only reasons to keep or to throw away something but gives me a plan of action as well. The old toy I need to share? Share it as soon as you get home! The sentimental item remembering a friend? Put in on display! Where there’s a purpose, there’s a natural course of action as well.
Armed with this new tactic I was able to quickly put everything into its proper place, be it the trash can or the bag of treasures!
The little Asterix, Obelix and Romans figures? As much as I love Asterix, I throw them away.
The old cabinet with glass doors for the Hi-Fi system? As much as I’d like to keep it, it’s gone. No purpose in it.
The old Hi-Fi system? Kept, with the same purpose: banging out music as loud as it can get! The CD module is not working, so maybe that part is heading for the trash can…
My first guitar amplifier? Too early to keep for my children, maybe I could sell it. New purpose: making money to buy a new effect pedal for my rig!
Various novelties from the annual dinners with the fanfare? Gone, I have other ways of remembering the good times spent (I wrote about some of them here: http://www.theemissionimpossible.com/not-good-enough/).
Phew, I went from paralysis to completion! Two evenings and the work was over, I just need to tow away a few heavy items.
What’s left to do now? I feel an urgent need to read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, that was brought to my attention by a colleague and that I bought as a gift for my wife – she has to read it yet too. Marie (beware of pronunciation, she is Japanese! You can hear the correct one on this excellent podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQG1yZFzbAs&ab_channel=TimFerriss) has, as far as my knowledge goes, found a way to help us to get rid of what we no longer need without feeling distressed. The whole philosophy is based on the concept of gratitude for the item we are dealing with: I found this idea really intriguing, I’ll get to it as soon as I can!
Until next time, 10 Emission Impossible Points to whoever finds out the reference for the image at the top of this post!