I am a notorious let-gopher (the opposite of a pack rat). In fact, My mother always has to qualify her requests for help organizing by saying, “with my help, so you don’t throw away everything I own!” I don’t know where the tendency to let go comes from (maybe seven moves in three years), but I think it is healthy and helps me maintain perspective and simplicity in life. I have long used three main rules to guide what to KEEP when I de-junk.
1. Things I use regularly or have used in the last YEAR
2. Things I LOVE
3. Things that I feel will be important for posterity
If it doesn’t fit these rules, it’s a goner (goodwill, craigslist, ebay, recycle or trash.) Rare items have made it through the multiple moves and clutter-buster sessions without fitting the rules. An example: a Wedgwood Millennium Collection teacup set that I bought at the Wedgwood factory in London in 1999. I have stored and moved this set of teacups for over 10 years and don’t love love them, never used them, never displayed them, probably wouldn’t buy them again, just hung onto them as if there was some incredible value about them. Sentimentality: the achilles of the pack rat;) Finally, last month I was organizing some things for storage and I thought “Enough!” and onto ebay they went…well, until I began typing in the description “Genuine Wedgwood teacup set bought in London…blah blah…WAIT! How cool is it that I bought these in London, the year of the collection, oh the memories!!” and I was again sucked into the black hole of believing that these teacups (that, were they lost, would most likely never be thought of again-hey, that would be a good rule!) were incredibly important. Dave laughed when I told him of the quandary. So, I came up with a new rule for myself.
4. Use it or Lose it.
IF there is something that I simply can’t toss, for whatever reason, I MUST use it…immediately! Dave gasped facetiously when I pulled out THE TEACUPS for our nightly tea on Sunday. I simply pulled them out and threw away the box. And poured hot water over the Bedtime Tea. And added sugar. And milk. And slid a couple shortbread cookies onto the plate. And handed one to Dave. And we sipped and chatted. And the world turned. And I now have one less box in my closet, and two more teacups in my cupboard. Where they belong.