Monday, September 08, 2003
Cleaning out the Junk Drawers
I must confess: my sister and I have inherited my parent's pack rat habits. My mom still has clothes that she wore when she was pregnant with my sister (who is now twenty). My dad has a cabinet full of stuff, from a whole range of H to B pencils to various sizes of batteries and lightbulbs. When I was clearing out a cabinet of mine yesterday I came to terms with my being somewhat of a pack rat myself.
I unearthed stuff that I hadn't seen in ages (from before I started working at this company, which was the last time that I had "organized" those cabinets)--exam booklets from my teaching stint, cassette tapes of Ricky Martin's "Vuelve" and Barenaked Ladies' "Stunt", even a grad picture proof of my ex with his "big hair" which I am giving to his fiancee. Some people have junk drawers: I actually have junk cabinets. There was so much trash which just ended up stashed there if I didn't find a better place to put it: I should realize that if I don't have a better place to put something, then I have no business with that something in the first place.
And then my friend sends me an email with a series of wisecracks including "Junk is something you've kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it." Haha! That got me thinking. What if I suddenly would need all that stuff soon? But I doubt. Don't get me wrong, I didn't throw out everything in that cabinet: it wasn't all worthless. I still spent a couple of hours combing through the stuff, found my transcript of records and some old recipes, and decided to junk "Vuelve", keep "Stunt" and Merill Bainbridge, toss out most of the stuff related to teaching except empty booklets that could be used for scratch, and actually found a box of heart-shaped vinyl-coated paperclips for kikay use in the office.
We continuously accumulate stuff, be it physical stuff or emotional baggage, stuff that may have actually held some meaning for us at some point in time, but as we all know, we will eventually have to let go of a lot of this stuff even if there was a previous use for it. It's just a matter of being able to determine which stuff to let go and which stuff to keep. My junk cabinet could be a manifestation of my psyche, then: before I could integrate more stuff in it, I had to let go of a lot of clutter; and now it's holding stuff that are truly more sentimental and worthing holding on to, as well as items that actually have a future use.
Much like the proverbial thorn pulled out, I felt a certain degree of calm and even relief that I was able to undertake this daunting task. There will always be doubts on the miniscule probability that something I considered as junk will suddenly prove useful, but there should be no regrets. I truly hope I can discipline myself to acquire only stuff that I actually need and for which there really is a place. There's a lighter feeling now that all the junk's been carted away, and although there's still a pack rat streak in me, I think this is all going to work out for the best.
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