I met a woman once who told me every time she found a box in her home that hadn’t been opened in two years, she would throw it away without looking inside of it. The idea of this propelled me into a panic attack faster than discovering a new imaginary body part. What if it was sentimental? What if it wasn’t yours? What if the box was filled with shoes?!
“Doesn’t matter,” she told me. “You’ll never miss what you didn’t know was there.”
I’m not sure about that theory. I mean, isn’t there an old adage that goes something like, you only know what you have once it’s gone? I’m not sure, that could just be a Joni Mitchell song, but it’s probably legitimate either way.
Whatever the truth is, all you have to do is turn on TLC or A&E to recognize letting go of material goods is something people are having a hard time with these days. Alternatively, just search the hashtag #TBT and you’ll be immediately inundated with people who found that sentimental box in the attic and are busy resurrecting it back to life, Thursday after Thursday.
I’ve been thinking a lot about junk this past week as I prepare for my seventh move in 24 months (leases aren’t really my strong suit). Packing life into Budget boxes is as good a time as any to get rid of the stuff that isn’t necessary. That is how I found myself, at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday, prancing around in a faux fur coat and a pair of hideously outdated Gucci sunglasses.
“Things change!” I said to no one in particular as I threw the items into my give-away box.
But, douchey sunglasses and teddy-bear coats aside, what about that pile of stuff you keep hidden in one designated kitchen drawer because you know you want it, you just have no idea why or what it’s for?
I debated doing the human thing — that is, taking the drawer out of the counter and dumping all its contents into one box labeled “misc” — but, something stopped me. Was I ever going to use my cheap European plug adaptor with the blown fuse again? What about the business card of a stand-up comedian I don’t remember meeting at the bar? What about the 18 pencil cases stuffed with broken pencil crayons and crusty glue sticks?
I mean, yeah, maybe I could use them again, but if I’m in desperate need of a stand-up comedian, a plug adaptor and pencil crayons I’m not going to be rooting through my junk drawer — I’m just going to pay all over again.
We like to think that we’re not wasteful; our spending habits have led to an accumulation of things that leave us prepared for everything. And, we like to think all the possessions in our lives have a unique and meaningful purpose — but, what we’re really doing is justifying the junk drawer.
It’s time to do away with it — the junk drawer, the miscellaneous box, your parent’s old camping pots and pans — and make room for something more meaningful.
As a member of the generation that seems to boast bringing the beatniks and hipsters back, we cling to material goods like a life line — assuring ourselves that with the next $70 pair of second-hand Levi shorts we’ll be one step closer to a life without strings.
But, Kerouac never kept the manual for his hot water tank. Ginsberg sure as hell wouldn’t have kept that tattered pair of underwear just so he had clean ones for eight days straight. And, Neal Cassady never stuck his thumb out and said “Hey! It’s just me and this drawer of crap, cool?”
— Andria is a twenty-something blogger living in Kamloops with her 100 pairs of heels and 200 paperback Penguin Classics.