There is a voyeur in all of us when it comes to other people’s homes and the amount of “clutter” they keep. Think of shows like “Hoarder’s” and “Buried Alive.” We look at other’s lives and ask, “are we as bad or better than that?”
Last week I started a house clear-out. It took six crew working five solid days to go through each individual item in every room, closet, cabinet, drawer, cupboard and shelf, to decide whether or not it could be sold, donated, recycled, trashed or hauled.
The items were then physically grouped into these categories with the marketable items going to an estate seller; The good quality, used items that wouldn’t sell, going to various charities; The paper, recyclable plastics and glass bottles going to the recycling facility, and; the trash getting hauled both privately and through a city sponsored bulk pick-up program. The project required many hours of planning, coordination and execution.
If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t clear the clutter from your home? This could be the reason. It takes a village!
You won’t see the “after” pictures. Not yet. But despite what it may seem, this is not a house belonging to a “hoarder.” This is not someone who secretly acquires items and has a compulsive need to save them, regardless of their value.
This is not the result of an individual who has a problem letting things go any more than the rest of us.
Instead this house, was once owned and inhabited by a family – a mother, father and child. Where friends and relatives came to visit, to celebrate, eat and grieve together. Where the parents grew up in an era where everything was saved since since there was a scarcity of practically everything when they were children. (Old habits die hard and often get passed down).
When that child grew up she got married and moved down the street and her parents got older and eventually needed care, and little by little things started to pile up. Little by little things couldn’t get done because there were much bigger things that needed doing and she was the only one doing them. Little by little the child, now an adult, had to take care of the family business, first with her mother, and finally alone. Then she lost her husband and she was completely alone.
She is older now, strong in mind but less so physically. Sometimes she sought solace in things, things to help her feel better, happier, pretty, less alone. who amongst us hasn’t? And little by little it got worse.
This could happen to anyone, you, me, your neighbors down the street who’s house from the outside looks so tidy and neat.
So the next time you think, oh I’m not like that! Or how could she/he/they let that happen? You may want to count your blessings that life has been kinder to you.