PACK RATS AND SAVERS – CLUTTERERS ADDICTION Have you ever wondered why you saved something?  You find the dust accumulation, like fresh snow on the sidewalk, on the old book or stack of papers.  You can’t live without it, or them, or the files, or the boxes of the papers or files or smaller boxes.  You absolutely know, beyond any shadow of a doubt – that you, yes you, will indeed, one day, not soon, but some day – require that item to be whole.  Wow…. Why do the savers do this?  I remember walking into an office of a professor once.  Little did I remember of our conversation.  Overwhelming amazement and disbelief warped my mind as the mountains of papers sat from the floor to the ceiling.  Not only papers, but also the books, the binders, the boxes of books, and the boxes of binders.  Why would he need a conference syllabus from 1979? 

That little seashell gift from your Auntie is still valuable and taking up space not only on the mantle, but also in your brain.  She gave that to you in 1960!

Clutter is intimate.  Clutter represents the untapped resource of the final idea.  Clutter is the soul of what can become.  All those articles neatly filed, catalogued, scanned into a progression of finding it someday.  All the unread, partially read, outdated books that may become part of your next book, or writing, or an editorial. 

Possibly the worst offending clutterers?  Certainly teachers hit the top of the list, at all levels.  Hobbiest are great clutterers, never know when you need that spool or dried up glue.  Some of that remaining blue yarn could become the hair of that unique doll for the grandchildren.  But everyone is a clutterer. 

Your next dinner party, social engagement, or backyard barbe will prove my point.  Just look around.  Why is the broken golf ornament still on his desk?  Big Bird finger puppet – thought he went out years ago?  What’s behind that door?

Offices, garages, and closets make great hideaways for the clutterer’s calmness.  But overall the problem rests somewhere between poverty, obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADD, and depression, all mixed for normality to hypomania.  Within all of this, is creativity.  Clutterers are creative, like the addictive mind.  They find the place, the time, the hidden capacity to make the world around them in the mirror look normal.  But the reflection from the mirror tells a different truth and perspective.

Now, not all clutterers, savers, and pack rats deserve such painful insight.  But as the time train continues the “eternal project” remains incomplete for another day. 

The rules:

1.  Experiment with throwing something away.  Calculate in advance how you will feel, then, in a day or so, compare your reality with what you calculated.  Pain or gain?

2.  Start clearing by starting with smaller boxes of items, a drawer, a desk, a closet.  Can’t eat the elephant with one bite.

3.  Feel good about donating to others who might use it, like Goodwill or other charitable agencies.

4.  With the modern day video cameras, photograph the things that represent memories and get rid of the junk.   It is the memory we clutch to, not really the item.

5.  Talk with your family, friends, colleagues.  They do it too.  Every family has one !

6.  A nice compromise for families that distress over the junk…make a memory box.

7.  Remember, only the feelings are real, the uncompleted task is still part of the soul. 

8.  Professional counseling is required to break the grip of this strange yet sometimes funny process of the human spirit.


Well, today, I was going to go find a cheap storage unit.  Which stack of paper was that ad in?  Which box?   Which room?  Oh, ya, in the bathroom…oh, it was at work…….



(adapted from The Magazine, 2007 Jan. with significant commentary by CastMD)

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