I read recently in an article (I think from Runners World) that there are two reasons we clutter our life with things. The first is by preparing for the future - keeping all sorts of things because we think we might need it someday! The second way is for remembering the past - keeping all the sentimental mementos from our yesteryears. If overdone, both detract from the present.
Over Christmas break one of my jobs at home was to go through quite a few boxes of my stuff. When Barry and I moved to California, we only brought a limited amount of our belongings. For me, a lot of stuff got left at my parent's place. But I began to wonder, if it wasn't important enough for me to bring to California, did I really need it in the first place?
I come from long line of savers. My Dad and Grampie fit the futuristic saver prototype. They keep all sorts of things for that day far in the future when they just might need it. My Mom and Grammie are more of the past saver types. (But I must note that they both have been doing a LOT of sorting and decluttering lately! I'm so proud of them!)
As I sorted through my belongings, I came to realize that I was definitely a saver. Maybe not an extreme one, but at least a mild one. For remembering the past, I have a whole tub full of small notes, letters, and mementos from my highschool days. Birthday cards, mission trip DVDs... They all got tossed into that tub. As far as saving for the future goes, I have a trunk full of little dresses, my favorite doll and all her handmade clothes that my great grandmother (or was it my great, great grandmother??) made, and other things of such nature that I am saving for when I have my own home and family someday.
As I created piles for the thrift shop, I mulled over clutter, possessions, and STUFF. What should guide my future decisions in regards to how much to keep and how much to pitch?
Barry and I have already made some decisions about how much we want to have. We had to start thinking about it a long time ago when people were wanting to know what we wanted for wedding gifts. Basically it boils down to this: we want to live simply, and in order to live simply, sometimes you have to make what seems to others as drastic choices. One of those, for us, is stuff. We have decided that we want quality essentials and not much more. In fact, we've already commented that we feel like we're getting too much stuff. On my to-do list is the task of going through our two closet/cupboard storage areas and deciding what we don't need. If we don't start now, things will start to build up quickly!
But I also think there is a time and place for the remembering and saving for the future. The trick is just to not let things get excessive. Save what is is MOST important, and have firm guidelines as to what makes the cut to be in that category. For instance, I have gotten rid of almost all of my beloved stuffed animals and childhood memorabilia. However, there are 3 that I have kept. These items will be passed on to my own children someday. And I have future plans to go through my box of memories from highschool and weed out everything but the MOST special and MOST important. I think I'll be able to reduce it from a tub full to at least a small pile.
I'm sure there are more lessons to be learned about clutter. I didn't even mention the clutter that we schedule into our lives each day or the clutter that exists in our minds. But those are for another day. I have a closet to sort through!
What about you? What are your guidelines for reducing clutter?