Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Challenge #20: Accumulations

Television programming is alerting mainstream America to some rather distressing household situations that can/may exist close to our own homes.  Who is familiar with "Buried Alive....Hoarding?" 

The first time I watched the show I was appalled.  Who on god's green earth could live in a home with stuff piled practically to the ceiling?  rodents and their feces laying among crumbs of food that are never swept away?  rooms of furniture hidden by boxes of junk?  not even a path to walk from room to room. They walk on top of the stuff.  As disturbing as it sounds, this is the way some people choose to live.

Psychologists come to these homes to assist the hoarders, starting by throwing just one item away.  A hoarder will not want to part with one single item, even something as ridiculous as a crumpled up paper sack.  It's difficult to understand why they do this, but there is always an underlying psychological reason.  Somewhere along the line they lived through a traumatic event that left them feeling a despair that one cannot possibly imagine.  They feel that all they have in this world are the things around them, keeping them safe and secure.  Eventually their homes become unlivable.

My focus, at this stage of my life, is to get rid of as much stuff as possible.  Just like today, we sorted through our clothes and chose a box of shirts and slacks that we haven't worn in the past year (the criteria for throwing something away).  While we were doing this, I couldn't help but think of this hoarding problem.  It must be an awful way to live.  Hoarders themselves say that they feel like they are buried alive, yet it's painful for them to part with any of it.

The big problem in the U.S. is that all of us have too much.  Life has been so good that we have continued accumulating one thing after another until suddenly the piles have taken on lives of their own.  Garage sales are one reason that the two of us have more stuff than we need.  When we're out for one of our daily jaunts, there's nothing more fun than stopping at a garage sale, paying a few pennies for something I'd like to have.  Usually, it doesn't take a diamond to entice me to buy.  My head is always stirring with ideas of making something new out of something old.  I'm pretty sure this is a curse and not a blessing.

It's a good thing that we have outlet stores that sell our stuff and then contribute the profits to good causes.  For me, that's consolation enough for giving our stuff away to them.  More than likely we could make a few dollars if we would have a garage sale of our own, but, hey, we have more fun things to do in our retirement.  In the past, I've had the urge to simply put up a sign in front of our house that says, "Come in, take what you want, it's all free." 

Then I think back to my Gramma.  She had so little, but appreciated all of it.  If my Gramma is looking down on me, I hope she knows how much I love her still.....she died when I was 12, but she walks with me every day of my life.  No other woman has influenced me like she did.

We need to all take a good look at those who have influenced us.  The humblest example has a hot-iron strength to sear a brand onto us that never goes away.  It would be a good mental exercise to examine our strong points and then identify the person who influenced that strong point.  One life touches another, whether we realize it or not.

My heart goes out to those who hoard in order to feel secure.  That must be a terrible affliction.  The lesson I learn from this is that I'd best put the skids on myself when it comes to accumulating things and get better at letting go of things.

The less the mess.....the less the stress.