2006/12/31

Thoughts On Leaving

The Value of Monasticism

If you ever doubt the wisdom of divesting yourself of possessions, spend 5 days in your parent's house trying to figure out what to with all the junk. Garages full of junk, spare bedrooms full of junk, basements full of junk--well, nobody in far West Texas has basements, but you get the point. Papa Kvatch has one whole room filled with boxes containing every paperback he's read in the last 4 decades. And his reason for keeping these packages of concentrated allergens? "I might want to read them again someday." Right Dad. Whatever you've got to tell yourself.

Oh sure...it may not be your problem to deal with now, but it will be, and I'm pretty sure that aside from finding the rare family treasure, nobody likes having to deal with a house full of junk after the death of a parent. So I'm here to tell you, whittle your life down now. While you still have time, decide what's really important, preserve it and get rid of the rest. I'm not saying be a monk...exactly...but definitely learn to live with less. You'll be happier, and your children will be way happier.

21 Comments:

Words of wisdom from The Gods!! When Dad died, we had to clean out that thing he euphemistically called "a garage"; 2 1/2 car; hadn't been able to use it in over ten years. Then we had to move Mom into an assisted living facility; cleaning out the house so she could sell it is a four volume novel...(:
Excellent advice, Kvatch!

Na Zdorovje!
Sannyasa

"In this phase of life, the person develops vairāgya, or a state of determination and detachment from material life. He renounces all worldly thoughts and desires, and spends the rest of his life in spiritual contemplation."

You cant take it with, they say.
Mom's stuff has been whittled down to very little and I've always operated on the principle that one should be able to move one's possessions in one's vehicle. I've no children, a good memory at the moment so I don't seem to have a need for keepsakes.

My dad had some interesting stuff that would have set my mom up for life if the religious fanatics that she hung with at the time hadn't taken everything to the junkyard. Things like the first twenty years of Playboy, with all the important issues. He had a collection of 8mm movies, one of which whose tag line was "Barbra Streisand as you've never seen her before". It was from the fifties. Gotta love those fundamentalists.
Well, looks like deb's dad knew what to hang on to. I used to work as an antique and colllectibles dealers, so I've been asked to sort out many peoples estates after they pass. I've been in so many houses crammed in junk the only passage were narrow aisles between boxes of junk, some of it valuable, most of it useless. I believe this is a condition exhibited by those who grew up during the depression, when nothing was ever thrown out, either that, or some sort of mental disorder. Having moved two times in the last three years, I've divested myself of a lot of junk, but still have boxes that I'm hanging onto for no discernable reason. Perhaps your father should be introduced top the idea of feng shui, where what ever will not be used in the next year is discarded (or donated to a charity like Goodwill).
When my mother died, she had almost 200 pairs of shoes. Some were still in the boxes, as she'd been ordering from Neiman Marcus while she was in bed with cancer, dying.

Since my diagonosis this week with PBC, I'm starting to think about what I do and do not need. This post is timely. While my disease isn't necessarily fatal, it is going to shorten my life a bit - and so I need to not do to my kids what my mother did. Timely post, Kvatch.
The perfect solution to accumulating is to become a traveler for a decade or so. It should start when you are old enough to have a pile of junk to divest, then even going 'home' means living out of suitcases.
The only thing I really miss are the books, which are still in storage. A few special books are my concession, and I curse them when I have to carry the bags.
I can't part with my books, Kvatch. But the rest is good advice.
good advice indeed
I'm at my folks too and I really feel you bro.

Happy New Year, Frogman, Bolgnonymites!
Uh-oh. Guilty. I'm a pack-rat big time. My family reminds me constantly.
I keep very few books, preferring to send them along to others. I remember telling my children, "I'm not a fricken library, for pete's sake!" Anything that I just have to read again, I can find it. I don't carry insurance on my posessions as they come and they go. Anything I have ever needed, I can get or it seems to show up. Stuff is just stuff. Now if you want me to give up the sunrise or the birds singing, that I would fight tooth and nail.
I have too admit that I'm a packrat. I still have boxes that I haven't unpacked since I moved to my current location.

Thats 10 years come July 1, 2007 and I keep meaning to start going through them and throwing out what I truly don't need.

Only problem is I never seem to have the time. Maybe I better start making it soon as I'm not getting any younger and I really don't feel like moving it all again if I have too.

Good post though and it really makes one think about what's really important in ones life.

God Bless.
I need to do the same thing. I have BOXES & BOXES chock-full of EVERY SINGLE newspaper article that ever had my by-line on it. NOBODY will ever read it after I'm gone, I need to just chunk it. Will I? Doubt it.
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I was a huge old pack-rat. When I got ready to move the family 2 years ago, I started down the path to liberation and threw out half of my crap. . .
Hi Frog,

excellent and concise post!

I spent too much time with family this season. And too many family members are getting old and are ill

But trying to get them to part with their crap is nearly impossible.

"It might be worth something...someday..."

Coming from a family of packtrats, I started off being a packrat. I used to drag all my crap with me from Apt to Apt and rented room to rented room all through college until I decided one day I just didn't need this shit.

I haven't turned back. I am constantly throwing shit away.

One problem though, as soon as I throw a bunch of shit away more shit mysteriously shows up (usually fromm relatives trying to pawn their shit off on me)

I have a rule now with my family "I DON'T WANT YOUR SHIT!"

Oh yeah, and all that paperwork your saving for God knows what? Shred it and toss it.

10 year old utility bills and tax papers? Fucking get rid of it.

There is nothing worse than having to go through boxes and boxes of paperwork decding what can just be tossed, what needs to be kept, and what needs to be shredded.

It's literally hours upon hours of work.

And because the world is full of identity theiving fucks, you can just toss it out like we should be able to.

Another handy thing is to go camping in a remote location (preferably the desert during spring), bring your shit, and burn it in a huge bon fire
All, it was never my intent to try and do anything about the junk in my parent's place. I was searching for some boxes of family momentos (photos and documents) left for me by my late maternal grandmother. To find them, I had to go through rooms full of stuff--so much, in fact, that by the time I found the boxes I was looking for, I didn't have any time to look through the photographs and papers.

[sigh]
HAving rooms crammed full of boxes of useless stuff can be a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder. I have that, and until I got on some meds about seven years ago, I tended to keep boxes of old paperwork, books I hadn't read in 20 years and all kinds of other things that were being kept "just in case I might want to use it later". I got rid of maybe 1/3 of the excess stuff (though I still have lots of books, CDs and DVDs, and my collection of musical instruments continues to grow!)

After my dad died in August, Mom was itching to get rid of lots of stuff. She and I have been working at it gradually, and it is daunting. As we go through boxes and boxes and drawers and closets at mom's house, we keep finding all kinds of treasures. A common comment from Mom: "So THAT's what happened to that thing!" It is truly amazing. My dad was also OCD, but never diagnosed as such... he was a collector and packrat of the highest order, but to his credit he sold his gun and antique tool collections before he died, so that Mom and I wouldn't have to deal with people trying to bilk us, get excessively-good deals at our expense, etc., and so we wouldn't have to go through all 300 tools or all 25 rifles and try to price them. Now there about a thousand CDs to go through, several thousand books, all kinds of tools in Dad's shope, and too much other stuff to consider. It will take years, and I am sure some of it will still be there to sort once Mom is gone.

Great post, K. It truly can be daunting! Mind-boggling, too!
LMAO..i have more junk than my parents..the ball and chain won't throw ANYTHING away..its pathetic..but I love him..whats a girl to do dammit?

Hope you had a good New Years Eve..and I want to wish you all the happiness you can handle for the new year my fav frog.
Try moving half way around the world and being to cheap to ship anything. That is right, not one box. I had to either carry it back on the plane or get rid of it. (Although I still have one box in Mom's garage).

Since then I've been pretty tough on myself with stuff, realizing that I don't need it.

My wife is another story, but she is making an effort for me.

P.S. My grandmother has 4 full size storage units (that we know of) packed to the ceiling, plus 2 full houses of stuff. Famous quote with translation:

"Just a couple of boxes" means living room waist high in boxes.

You get the picture.

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