Saturday, March 10, 2018

Don't Save Your Stuff!

Yesterday, I worked up at my mom's shop. Every time I go there (instead of working from home) I get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that exists. In the shop, in the world, in my house. Sorry, family.

We had one woman stop by who was debating selling back her baby things. She is planning to have another baby in about three years, and she has storage space. So why not save her things,she wondered, so she doesn't have to buy them again?

I have several reasons. Because they will be out of style in three years. Because they may get damaged in storage (my mother knows someone who stored her baby things, but they were eaten my mice in storage. Yuck.) by bugs, rodents or weather. Because plastic deteriorates and becomes brittle when exposed to heat -- and many storage spaces are either very hot or very cold. Because you will be excited, and want to get new sheets or other items (or a family member will). Because you will want fewer, or newer things for your next baby -- manufacturers are innovating all the time. Because someone else can use it in the meantime -- or several someones might.

These reasons apply to almost anything you can store. Your too-small clothes can be worn by someone else until you get back to that size -- and you can buy fashionable things when you meet your goal weight. Your crafting materials can go to someone else, and you can use the new ones you really want (you know that's true, or you wouldn't have so much fabric or yarn stored away!). The books you bought but haven't read. The suitcases for the long-anticipated vacation. The storage jars that might be useful someday. (I'm guilty of this too! I don't try to kid myself. That's why I write.)

My mother-in-law stored boxes of paperback books in her attic for when she was "old and poor." Her plan was to forget the books, and be able to read them fresh in her dotage.  Unfortunately, she passed away sooner than she expected, and never got around to rereading those books. When we pulled them out of the attic this year, they were yellowed and the glue in the binding had deteriorated so much that they are of use to no one. They had to be discarded. How many people could have enjoyed them if she had donated them? (No mention will be made here of her refusal to consider using the library for reading material. Even though her daughter-in-law was a librarian at the time.)

Yes, you might get around to using them after they come out of storage. But it might be too much work to clean them off, remove the stains that magically have appeared, pull them out, and fix the damage. Or you might never get to use them. You might not have another baby -- or your grandchildren might never happen. You might not make the trip you are saving the suitcases for -- or you might have learned to travel lighter.

And during all that waiting time, while you are waiting to get to that future version of you, you'll be pursued by the physical representation of what doesn't exist.

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