Get rid of the ‘junk’ in your life now

One of the hardest things in life is to maintain the delicate balance between the importance and unimportance of “stuff.”
You know, the ever-present stuff we store in closets and cupboards. The stuff we treasure and at the same time often resent.
I can still remember a half-century ago as a young high school teacher in Kitchener, Ont. spending a precious Saturday afternoon sorting through the stuff stored in my little attic. And all the time, the only thing I really wanted was to be outside in the fresh spring air.
Even then, I had a sense of uneasiness about all that stored stuff but still I kept most of it. And I’ve been keeping things ever since.
File folders from projects discontinued years ago. Pot holders made by my mother. Pictures drawn by a budding artist. A workbook used in my own second grade class. An expensive outfit that’s out of style but might come back in.
A tiny red coat with a hood worn by a little girl of three. A prayer written for her Sunday School class by my grandmother. An exercise bike that’s been used possibly 10 times in 20 years. An unmatched set of pillowcases.
Oh, I sort and organize and try to make hard decisions. But still, the sum total of my stored possessions steadily has grown year by year and decade by decade. And I almost had come to take it for granted that dealing with all the stuff of life is unavoidably one of the difficult burdens of growing older.
But that was before I saw those columns of refugees walking out of Kosovo last spring. Tens of thousands of them, walking . . . walking . . . walking . . . . With a few possessions in a small cart or a bundle on their backs.
Facing a sight like that day after day has to change a person. And I couldn’t help thinking what would be in my bundle. Not the files from old projects. Not the tiny red coat, outgrown years ago. And certainly not the exercise bike.
Maybe the prayer my grandmother wrote. But, on the other hand, I could commit that to memory.
Unfortunately, the refugees in Kosovo were only the beginning of a heart-breaking and life-changing year. Thousands of earthquake victims in Turkey and Taiwan have lost everything.
And now flooding in North Carolina has turned one of the most beautiful places on our continent into a disaster area. Thousands are homeless. Hundreds of thousands of animals are drowned. Unearthed coffins and bloated cows float in the streets.
Millions have been forced to flee with just a handful of possessions. And now we know it can happen here as well as abroad.
Nothing is permanent in this life. Least of all, our “stuff.” And it’s a fine line when “stuff” becomes “junk.”
Clutter expert Don Aslett defines junk as “anything that doesn’t enhance our lives.” And then goes on to say, “Even if it’s a $1,000 set of china ‘too nice to use,’ a chair that takes constant maintenance, or a hammer that would be useful except we can’t find it.”
Too much stuff is one of the burdens of affluence but it’s a burden from which we can free ourselves. So why not walk through the rooms of your house today and identify the “stuff” in your life that might just possibly be classified as “junk.”
Then have the courage to free yourself from it now–before some poignant life crisis forces the issue.

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