Preserving Our Past For The Future

Being in the junk business can be quite interesting. You meet lots of fun folks, see loads of uniquely cool items, and go places like muddy, rusty junkyards, underneath overgrown chimneys out in fields, and dilapidated barns to uncover the honey holes of junk. I love what I do, even if it can contribute to one of my biggest weaknesses….a tendency to hoard that junk.

I really, today anyway, am not all that big a hoarder. At least not as big as hoarder as most and not even as massive a hoarder as I used to be.  I have always placed large value on preserving the past, and would save things from destruction by purchasing or picking them up roadside even if I didn’t have an immediate use for them. I like to help others by giving away junk, and this was always my modis operandi, till I went into business and had to start selling it to make my living. Things have changed, due to the premium on space at my home and no storefront. Pretty much everything I now purchase at yard sales, find on the side of the road or dig for in those interesting barns goes into my storage units and everything has a price. And NOTHING is above getting sold.

It is that time of year when I am purging my booths, rearranging the existing storage units (four to be exact) and trying to eliminate one by the end of January at the latest. Since closing my shop in the summer and moving items to storage I have been selling a lot in various booths and online. But there are always those items, for whatever reason, that don’t turn right away and sit, and sit, and sit some more in storage. By the time they do sell, they are not worth anything because the initial value is gone, and the storage fees paid come off that bottom line. I abhor storage, always have, but it is a kind of necessity in my business right now. My job is to stay ahead of the game so the stuff doesn’t rule me, and rather I rule the stuff. Things were complicated a bit when my ideal number of  two 10 by 10 storage units swelled to an additional two units that are 10 by 20 due to the sudden closing of one of the stores where my booths were located. I had to shove it into storage just to vacate in awful, blistering weather during our Indian summer, and now I am dealing with it again in the extreme cold.

They are not fun, those two units.

I was watching the TV show Hoarders the other day. Being a professional organizer in my former life, I understand the psychological side of hoarding. The affected person has a deep seated need of some sort that  surfaces in the hoarding. It affects not only that person,  but also their family, their finances, friends, social life and even their spiritual life as they struggle to free themselves of the ties that bind them to their unnecessary possessions. A common thread that is voiced is “I can’t throw this out, SOMEONE might need it.”

Sometimes they are their own someone. Other times it is this faceless child or old person who cannot afford those headless dolls, moldy Tupperware pieces , defunct cell phones, or volumes of sports rackets that just need restringing to be good as new. In one episode I watched the other day, the psychologist pried opened a huge tote and found it was full of Chex mix. It had been stored over five years, the hoarder said, and she was saving it for “entertaining”. It was the leftovers of other parties she had hosted and she just kept dumping stuff in because, well…someone might need it…that someone being her.

After watching that episode, I was pretty reflective and have pondered a lot about the units I have. I think there are legitimate reasons for me to have those units in some cases, I do have to have backstock from my estate liquidations and have ongoing inventory to sell. But…is anyone REALLY going to want most of what is in those units? Highly unlikely, or if they do it will be a needle in a haystack finding the right buyer at the right time on most items. Just because it CAN sell sometime, doesn’t at all mean that it WILL.

And in all honesty, it is a LOT more fun buying something new and turning it right away because I purchased with someone directly in mind, instead of buying on a maybe or because it was cheap.

I also thought about how most of us hoard in intangible portions of our lives, too. We keep things in our minds that should have been thrown out long ago, things that are past their prime, no longer productive and in fact costing us dearly every single day. We hold grudges, we save words to be used in “that” conversation we want to have with our enemy, we have dark  thoughts  about our growing up, or we harbor ill toward a person who said a cross word to us on the wrong day in high school. We hold onto them for the same reason as the Chex Mix lady held onto her salty, stale snacks…someone might need it someday. And sadly, we are that someone.

It would be so much better to hold onto those things worth saving, rather than hold onto those things that weigh us down and make us sad. We don’t need those memories of the past, they only inhibit a beautifully sound future. And that is my plan for both my physical and my spiritual storage as 2016 comes to a close.

As I purge the storage units, I plan to hold things with light fingers. If it is not an object I can put right into a booth, or get photos of and list online, or list on ebay within the next month, then it is going right out to donation. Let someone else deal with it and find the right person to purchase.

And as I contend  with those old memories that want to suffocate and dampen my bright future, I plan to toss them into the old mental  Chex Mix tote, and then toss that sucker right out. I’d much rather spend my time saving things that are truly worth it to me. No more renting space in my mental attic to those things that are not making a contribution to my future.

And it won’t be that difficult, once I really get started with the ruthless toss task. I have always been a much better owner than renter anyway.

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