Unwanted Stuff

May has been a very busy month.

In early May, we began starting seeds in the house. EJ started the plants he wanted in his garden and I planted mine. A few days later, the weather turned warm and the forecast showed that it would remain warm so we took the plats of seeds outside and put them on the deck. We also began working in our gardens. Of course, then there were frost warnings so we brought the seeds all back inside. We do this every year. I swear that Nature is like Lucy with the football in the Peanuts comic. She tempts us with warm weather and then yanks it back. Still, we are getting more warm weather than cold.

We’ve lived here almost 8 years (June 1st is the anniversary of our move) and we still haven’t gotten the garage organized. Every year I say that we will organize it and we don’t–but I’m determined that THIS year we will do it. It is an overwhelming task for EJ who is a bit of a hoarder. He is awesome at repurposing items and sees a possible use for everything so hates to throw anything away. I don’t think he needs to get rid of useful things, but there is a lot of stuff he can get rid of. Things like cardboard boxes, jars, broken fans, multiple radios, exercise equipment we will never use, and so on. These things take space, pile up, and get lost or broken. If EJ’s garage is organized, he will be able to find tools and other items he needs and he will have space to putter, work on things, and so forth.

I told EJ that we are getting older and each year that passes, organizing the garage becomes more physically difficult–especially with EJ bad back. If we ever decide to move again, trying to take all that stuff with us will be backbreaking. And whichever one of us dies first, the other will be left with a horrendous task–or we will leave it behind for our son. We need to sort through this stuff now.

I’m relatively good at organizing so I’m helping EJ. He hates being away from me and Hannah so we set up our long folding table in the kitchen so he can sort nails, screws, and other doodads by type and size into jars and cans. when they are sorted, we will take them out to the garage. With a sorting table set up in the kitchen, EJ–and sometimes me–is able to work on sorting now and then when he has a moment or two. In the garage, we are sorting bigger items to keep, recycle, donate, sell, give away, or throw out. The last couple of weekends we’ve taken many items to the local recycling place. As he sees the useable space in his garage expanding, he says he is feeling happier.

We also both decided to go through our closets and cupboards for unwanted or unused items. No matter how much we like something, if we haven’t worn or used it in several years then it’s just taking up space.

I grew up going to garage sales. EJ grew up going to auctions. After we married, I took him to garage sales and he took me to auctions. I considered the difference between the two: People tend to have garage sales to get rid of items they no longer want. Auctions tend to be to get rid of a deceased person’s items. I observed that at an auction, the lifelong accumulation of a person’s treasured possessions are hauled out onto their lawn, strangers paw through them, and they are sold for very little money. Auctions kind of make me sad because the possessions look shabby and worn out on the lawn. But auctions taught me that stuff is just stuff that is left behind when we die. Sort of a melancholy thought but still true.

While we’ve been sorting, I’ve been pondering that holding on to useless things is a burden. It clutters up space so there’s no room for good stuff. We’ve got to be able to stop hanging on to junk. We’ve got to let it go. These thoughts led me to thinking about all the emotional junk we hang onto. We’ve got to sort through all that too, getting rid of false guilt, regret, loss, painful memories, forgotten dreams, broken relationships. Holding on to those is also a burden. I have fought hard to overcome abuse, but I am determined to expand my efforts and let more things go.

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