Sunday, 29 April 2012

Clutter or keepsake?

Every now and then, I go through a purging phase. This is usually kick started by the need to find something but can sometimes end with a bin full of junk, clothing bagged up ready to give away and borrowed items returned to their owners. Last weekend, I needed to find an important document that I knew was in a 'safe place'. I haven't yet recovered said document but did manage to find some other files that I had been hunting for a few weeks ago and was amazed to discover that my safe place for these was pretty much right under my nose!

I was reading an opinion piece this morning called Is tidiness next to godliness? We all know people with bulging garages that can't fit a car in them, or have 'spare' rooms and attics packed to the rafters with various assorted treasures. Then there are people I know who subscribe to the "out of sight, out of mind" school of thought, where they insist on having clear surfaces (and judge others by theirs) but are quite happy to hide their junk in drawers or other rooms so long as it can't be easily seen.

I also read about a documentary called My Hoarder Mum and Me. Apparently compulsive hoarding is a behavioural pattern that almost warrants a medical condition. I've only ever seen such extreme behaviour once for myself, but I remember my friend's father, who was a mobile mortgage manager, telling us how he'd visited a woman who "needed" to sell her house because the one she was in was too messy. She had no money and no job so wanted a mortgage to buy a bigger house. He could barely breathe for the stench inside and discovered full rubbish bags lining the hallway (she never threw her rubbish out), 20-30 years of newspapers stacked everywhere and not a single place to sit or stand. He suggested she start by cleaning up her current house or at least just getting rid of the rubbish. "No," she replied firmly. The rubbish bags would be going with her to her new house (if she could only get a mortgage to buy one). 

Is it sentimentality? Sometimes. Fear of disparity? Not usually, but I still remember many years when I had to make very careful purchasing decisions so these particular items are some of the hardest for me to get rid of. When my grandmother died, we found cupboards and drawers full of things she had kept "for good". Instead of using the new tea towels she had bought, she'd use the worn out ones with holes in them every day and save the new tea towels "for good". The sad thing is that I don't know when or if "for good" ever arrived, but I have inherited much of her behaviour in this respect and tend to keep things "for good" or "for later" instead of enjoying them just for now.

How about you? Are you a hoarder or a purger? Is there any hope for either type or personality?

1 comment:

Janine said...

Hi there, I found your blog via the Choc Festival website. This is an interesting post. I was rather pleased to see I am not the only one who has "safe places". For some reason I had a few and they were so safe I couldn't remember them. So now I have one offical safe place and several back ups lol.

I am a use it now person for a similar reason that you described above. For example my parents had a cutlery set that sat in a china cabinet that was a wedding gift. They gave it to me and hubby about three years ago and we actually use it. I love using it because it reminds me of my parents love and also the addage of using nice stuff now.