I want to get rid of all of my stuff.

Really, I do.

I can close my eyes and say “I want to get rid of all the stuff I don’t absolutely need or love.” And I think I can wipe out half of what I own, easy. No problem.

But then I open my eyes and say, “hmm…that pan really does come in handy when I want to make poppyseed chicken, or brownies, or any other sort of food requiring that sort of pan.” Or “I probably should keep all the towels we have, because what else would I possibly do with them, or what happens when we have 6 houseguests at a time?” Or “well, I really do need to have a computer to work.”

And then that whole other category: “I can’t get rid of the stuff my friends and family gave me. They were gifts, special. I can’t go around getting rid of stuff that was given to me by people I love.”

And so I keep it all, or at least, most of it. I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff since I got married. I used to be the biggest pack-rat I ever met. Old t-shirts? Precious. Paperwork? Absolute keeper. Old candy cane? But it has memories!!!

(Actually the candy cane thing happened when I was about 5, and I just wanted to show it to my parents. Another story – another time, perhaps.)

But I saved everything. Everything meant something. Everything had a memory. I couldn’t part with the stuff, because I might lose the memory associated with it. Even when I couldn’t remember why I kept something, I knew there was a reason, so I kept keeping it; after all, I kept it for a reason, right?

Then I went to college and got a job in the Archive & Special Collection area of the library. And after hours of sorting old papers and other keepsakes, I thought “Who cares about all this old crap?” It was a turning point, and my “stuff” quota has decreased considerably.

But I still have too much of it, and it drives me crazy, and I don’t know what to do with any of it. I’m not even very sad when things break, because then I don’t have to figure out what to do with them. I read in a book about organizing that “You own the stuff – the stuff doesn’t own you” – and I thought: Yeah!! Preach on, organizing book!!!

But the next step is the tough part. And I can’t figure out what to do.

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