Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Depression Era Thinking

I didn't get much clutter sorted today. I worked on laundry, and I had a dentist appointment, and I took my son to practice for the next round at the fair. So I did adult-responsibility things and I spent my time on things that are important to me and my family (including health and my children's interests).

But I did take a few minutes to move some clutter around. I sent the doilies I sold on ebay. It took me a few minutes to remember where I stored them -- inside a "really good" shoe box I had. It was really sturdy, and protected the contents of the box. But I didn't recognize the box at first as a holder for crochet doilies.

Eventually I found the doilies, and I shipped them off, and all is well. But what do you suppose I did with the "really good" shoe box? I did not set it out to be recycled. I put it back on a shelf to be used for "something" in the future. In case I need to hide something else in plain sight. In case I have a shoe box emergency.

I had a hard time recognizing the shoe box as clutter. It's useful for holding things and for storing things that need to be stored. However, I am trying to reduce the amount of stuff I am storing. I don't want to use it as a gift box with the popular admonition "it's not what it says on the box" as the recipient opens the gift. But I feel I ought to keep it because it "might be useful."

Growing up, my mother never got rid of pillowcases. Her mother told her to always keep them because "pillowcases are so useful." So my mother kept them, and I she taught me to always keep them. And I did, for years and years, until I realized I had a stack of pillowcases I had never reused for anything. If I never really needed them, they weren't really useful, after all.

My grandmother grew up during the Great Depression. Her mother had to scrimp to make ends meet, and the ends didn't always meet even then. Saving the few things that did come their way was truly helpful, if not necessary.

However, it's been more than a few years since the Great Depression began. Material goods are easy to come by, for most of us in the US. Maybe too easy to come by. As a result, we may need to develop a new way of thinking. At the very least, I need to develop a new way of thinking. Instead of looking at clutter as possibilities I need to accept the fact that I don't need to hold on to every potential. I can let things go. I don't need to save everything to protect against the Great Depression.


  1. Great insights. I have also learned to ask myself 2 questions: How hard would it be to replace this item if in fact I did need it? How much would it cost to replace it?

    I also set a $ limit for replacement cost including the idea that I could probably borrow a lot of things, take them off friends hands, get them at a thrift store or find a substitute. Having a scarcity mindset in the midst of an overabundance of material items is not helpful to low stress living.

  2. I've heard about the "20-20" test, where you don't keep it if you can replace it for $20 or in 20 minutes. However, I start adding up all the $20 dollars and it seems hard to let things go. I know it's not rational (if I use it up and need to buy more I'm no better off). I tell myself that recognizing I'm being irrational is good, and I am making improvement, but I still have to struggle to let some things go!