I’m sitting here watching one of the latest episodes of the show Hoarders. The show shines a light on an issue that I think more people deal with than any of us realize. I would have never have called myself a hoarder, exactly, but I think I could have been considered something of a “packrat” at times.
Five years ago this weekend, Hurricane Katrina made landfall and caused extensive damage in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. I worked at a newspaper at that time, so I went back into my archive of articles written while I worked there. Ironically, the way our schedule landed, my column for two days after Katrina hit was entitled, “Cleaning out the clutter.”
An excerpt from that column:
I’m a packrat, and I admit it. I have a lot of STUFF in boxes all over the place, and I’ve recently began a massive project of going through all the boxes with the hopes of throwing things out.
I’m not doing too bad, as bag count has now hit around seven in this on-going project. Five of those bags were thrown out this last weekend.
Is there really any reason to still have a dress code for the school district I attended from 1987? What about a coupon for a free pizza that expired in 1998?
I have no idea how all of this stuff has accumulated over the last 25 years, but it has. My need to save everything under the sun is quickly going out the door along with a receipt for CDs purchased back in 1995.
I think my biggest problem is my need to save receipts and statements. I’ll end up saving them for years and then doing a mass shred/clean-up like the one I wrote about in that column. The problem is that I don’t save them in files. I have a great filing system set up! I just don’t USE it properly. It all goes in a box that then ends up in a bigger box that then gets shoved in a closet or under a desk.
I do have a method to my madness… generally. My husband tolerates it, but I know he’d rather see more paper clutter get out of the house all together. I’m trying to consciously change here and there to make my collection of receipts, etc. diminish.
I have a lot of books collected. I still have most of my college text books that some days I think I should have tossed. But I’ve recently discovered a need for some of those books. I’ve wanted to go back and re-study things I learned in college, and I am glad to still have those around.
I don’t buy CDs much any more. I do if it benefits a friend, but otherwise I’ve moved away from that. I’m still proud, though, of my nice CD collection. They’re all pretty old by now. Several of them I am sure are scratched. But they are fun to have to show how my musical tastes have changed over the years.
Past that, I have a few boxes of random items that I don’t need, but I’ve just never been able to bring myself to throw away. It’s these random items that makes me feel compassion towards the people on the show Hoarders. Sometimes, you can’t explain it… you just want to save something.
I don’t think I could ever be a full fledged Hoarder. If anything, over the last few years I’ve grown to love keeping things neat. I like to clean out my closet every few months. I have found a peace over my home exists when things are kept in good shape. I can’t imagine living in a state of constant clutter, in a state of constantly being dirty. I need to vacuum. I need to sweep and mop.
I am a paper-clutter-pack-rat. And I admit that. But I vow its never going to go anywhere past that.