Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Getting Organized

Dar and I are in the process of “de-cluttering”. This is really a big deal, since the two of us have opposite views on the subject of accumulating possessions and their subsequent disposal.
My dear partner is a pack-rat. She admits it. These genes run in her family, and she really got a good dose of ‘em. She believes that everything has value, given the right conjunction of the matter-space-time continuum. This genetic pre-disposition for hoarding was probably also reinforced by her up-bringing on a farm out in the Township of Westford, where things like this occurred on a regular basis:
  • Old Man: “Dang, this old electric motor on the grain-auger is about shot. I’ll have to run to town, buy a new one, and loose half a day gettin’ it all done.”
  • Daughter: “Gee Dad, do you think the motor that’s in that old washing machine lying out behind the barn would work?”
  • Old Man: “You know, it just might! I like the way you think. I’ll give it a try.”
Living on the edge of the prairie and miles from anywhere made saving stuff “just-in-case” a necessity. However, behaviors learned in childhood are hard to change, maybe impossible. So, fast-forwarding to today, this is how a recent conversation went:
  • New Old Man: “Looks like the pump is shot on the dishwasher. We’ll have to get a repairman in to have a look.”
  • Wife: “I wonder if the pump that’s in that old wash machine out behind by Dad’s barn would work?”
Besides the utility of saved stuff, there’s the emotional element to contend with. I can’t write much about that, because if she reads this blog entry, she’ll start crying. That’s all I have to say about that.
Now, I admit, I played a role in the accumulation of all the stuff that surrounds me and is currently preventing me from getting to my workbench in the basement without crawling over some old exercise equipment or squeezing around the side of the furnace. But the difference is this: she saves stuff because it might be useful someday or because it has some sentimental value. I just abandon stuff and am too lazy to get rid of it.
So, here we find ourselves — preparing for the future and, together, cleaning out the clutter. And it’s becoming apparent that we have different philosophys here too. She carefully goes through every box, making a mental calculation with everything she touches: “how might I use this someday? who might be able to use it? what does it mean to me? I wonder if my Dad could use it on the farm?” Some things are being thrown out, some offered to others — but it’s a slow process, and we still have way too much stuff.
I, on the other hand, have a slightly different philosophy: the house has just burned to the ground. Now what, I ask myself as I sort through the ash and rubble, would I not be able to replace at Fleet Farm or WalMart if I ever needed it again? I could fill a dumpster in a day!
But, alas, in the interest of domestic harmony and staying married, I’m letting my dear wife go through it all her way first. But I’ve got the number for the dumpster guy in my speed-dial. And I’m waiting.