Dispersing the Hoard

A self-help guru named Marie Kondo has come under fire for her philosophy regarding clutter and possessions. Basically, she’s in favor of getting rid of everything you don’t really need – the “need” part being the element with which people seem to take issue. The main idea of her theory is to get rid of things that don’t bring you joy. Turns out, a LOT of things give me joy.

Bill adding another box to the piles in the basement…

I have WAAAYY too much stuff. Our basement more closely resembles the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark than anything else. A big part of my problem is that I’m extremely susceptible to the collecting bug. In my teens it was baseball cards, beer cans, and stamps; these days, the urge runs more toward board games and miniature figurines – none of which take up very little space. I’m not the only one in this house that falls prey to this same bug: the cats have more toys than they could use in a lifetime – if only they’d stop knocking things under the refrigerator!

I have tons of books I amassed over the years. Most I intended to read, but I’m not a fast reader, so it takes me a while to work through my highest priority “to read” pile. Most of what I have are old, mass-market paperbacks, harvested from used bookstores for a dollar or two. Some are reference books, some are things I read more than once, and some are books that intrigued me, but I have yet to even crack the cover. Lately, I’ve been buying more books particularly to support friends and colleagues who are writers. It builds up.

Years ago, I wrote articles for a collectibles website. My category was action figures, and I hunted through Kay-Bee Toys, Toys “R” Us, Target, Wal-Mart, Shopko and a host of non-chain toy stores looking for interesting ideas to write about. I was responsible for about a dozen articles a week – some short and newsy, but others longer and delving deeper into a limited aspect of toys. There are currently more than a dozen large plastic tubs in my basement, all of them filled to the brim with toys. It’s been two decades since I had that job, and while some of the toys will be worth significant money in years to come, most were produced in such large quantities that it will be decades more before they achieve any significant value to collectors.

My summer is going to be taken up with clearing out the excess – and believe me, there’s plenty excess to clear – and strip down to stuff I actually use or have a specific plan for. That means 90% of the random stuff I own really needs to get moved out of the house. It won’t be a fast process, but it needs to happen. I’ve made a start; I moved a dozen boxes of games – mostly review copies sent to me on spec that I had no interest in reviewing – to a local shop that buys used and new games second-hand. It doesn’t even seem that I’ve made a dent.

I don’t think I could ever trim down to the point where living in a tiny house was the least bit practical, but the closer I get to that state, the easier (and simpler) life will be. I don’t think there’s any danger of me supplanting Marie Kondo as a decluttering guru, but it would be nice to have more room to move in the basement, and less stuff to trip over. I’ll let you know how the decluttering goes…

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