Looking Through My Stuff

by Chris McGinty
I’m a pack rat. Have you ever seen that show “Hoarders”? I’m not quite so bad off that I would make a very good guest for that show, but I do have a lot of junk.

When I was doing writing prompts for the blog I got a question which was to name books that have changed my life. There are a few. I figured that as the blog went on I could in turn deal with many of them and how they affected me. “Organizing from the Inside Out” by Julie Morgenstern was one such book. I read about half of it in 2007, and then I had to take it back to the library. What I read was information that I think every pack rat could benefit at least a little from knowing.

She deals with some of the psychological reasons for surrounding yourself with clutter, and I could see myself in some of the examples.

There is the need for abundance. You mistake having a lot of stuff with success. That’s not so much me. But the part about feeling like you will need something if you get rid of it. Now we have a winner. I’m one of those who looks at a box of envelopes that would cost very little to replace, but that I am unlikely to need anytime in the near future or not so near future and think, “But I might need them eventually damn it.” And you get enough of that kind of thing and suddenly you’re paying a monthly bill for storage to avoid paying less than a dollar for an envelope later. This tends to happen because eventually you just have so much stuff anyway that storage is already necessary so why not keep those envelopes.

For me there was more than just the realization of these things. Technology has made many things possible that were once not so possible. I’ve always been about backing up stuff. When you take your notebooks and photocopy them so that your can keep an offsite backup, you’re more protected against loss, but you take up more space. But now saving data to DVD makes backing up of information not only easy, but it doesn’t take up space. And having web space can be useful too. For me to lose important documents now there would have to be major catastrophic events.

Upon realizing how easy it is to backup information, but not take up space, I realized that I could face some of the psychological issues brought up in the book head on. Once I have a short story, chapters, notes, or whatever transcribed from the notebook to a word processor file I can still keep the notebook if I want, but the photocopies can go, and I can back it up many more times without incurring too high of cost or taking up much space.

I decided then to get rid of half of everything I own as the first part of my goal. Anything that has no practical value goes. If it’s just memorabilia I simply take video of it, encode the video, and backup the file. You can turn a whole box of crap into three DVDs of backed up data, and save so much room. It’s all very freeing.

Once I reach the first point of being rid of everything with no practical value, I will move onto the second point, which is to be able to store everything I own in my bedroom (aside from the car and truck, of course.) Even if it’s cluttered at that point, it would be cluttered without a storage bill.

It occurred to me that there are some things that I’ve written that would make for ok posts on this blog, so on occasion I will post some of them up. And how nice is it that I will have one more backup in addition to every other backup I have in place. I feel like I should be laughing maniacally. I feel like maybe I didn’t learn anything from that book after all…

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