About ten days ago, I woke up in my cluttered apartment and realized one thing I could do to reduce the amount of junk here was to throw away the bottles of cologne I had on my bathroom countertop. While I once liked to wear cologne from time to time, I could not remember the last time I put some on. Once I got rid of those bottles, I started work at cleaning the bathroom counter, finding other stuff to discard.
Since then, I’ve been working pretty diligently — at least one hour every day and getting rid of stuff. It’s amazing how much I have accumulated. I found notes for blog posts, printouts going back as far as the election of 2000, even articles by Andrew Sullivan that I had saved because I had agreed with them so strongly.
Today, I recycled two whole wastepaper baskets full of paper — as well as one bag of shredding. I have created space where once there was clutter and consolidated the papers, files and magazines that were once in three storage boxes into two.
I do need to learn to throw things away. As I took a break from sorting through papers to call a friend, he suggested that it is a sign of depression when you live with too much stuff. I’m not entirely sure if he’s right, but he does have a point.
I do think we tend to take comfort in our things, buying something sometimes not so much because we need it, but because the excitement of the purchase helps us forget a momentary anxiety or the difficulty of the day.
Perhaps then it’s a good sign that I begin the new year by focusing on ridding my apartment of the junk that has accumulated over the years, looking briefly into the past as I review these papers, saving some, trying to gather together what I have observed and then, to reflect on what I have learned and to move forward with less stuff, but more space, determined in the future to act on some of those ideas I had written about in the past.