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Hoarding 911

September 4, 2012

Look at this living room.

Would it bother you if your living room looked like this? Does it evoke a sense of stress for you when you look at it, or does it calm you? If this was your place, would you pay someone to clean it all up, would you just to light a match to it, or..would you protect it with all your power?

This room belongs to someone I know.

After my initial shock of discovering this scene, the person who lives here asked for some help to clean it, but interestingly enough nothing could be touched while that person was in the house. It was made tidier (and safer) when they were not home. When they returned they felt better, but alas, could not keep it clean or continually tidy. The rest of the house looks similar.

This was, I believe, the tipping point of my journey to owning less.

I would come home from visiting this place and start looking around my loft at my own possessions. Feeling so shaken by what my eyes saw, I just started bagging my extra stuff and walking it over to Goodwill as to try to somehow avoid my future turning out like the photo I included in this post.

I have no idea why I thought my life would even remotely turn out like that. It may have been a knee jerk reaction to what I experienced in that environment, and how I felt about it. I was actually nowhere near that messy or cluttered to begin with. I never really thought I owned a lot of stuff either. I don’t own a home, I don’t own a car, I don’t own any pets. I felt better though after I donated my things, and every month or so I would take another 1 or 2 bags down the street for donation. I thought that all the stuff I owned was useful, but when it was gone I never missed it.

I often purchased more clothes and toiletries than I needed when on sale. (still do, still working on it). Luckily, toiletries are consumables and clothes change with the seasons and fashion, so they go in and out of my life. Clothes also wear out, so for me getting rid of those things seemed to be simpler than getting rid of stuff like unread magazines and old books. Subsequently I cancelled the two magazine subscriptions I had, and never read the newspaper anyway so now my paper retaining problem has been solved.

The bagging and donating went on very slowly and calmly for the next 3 years as I began to question the concept of material ownership. How much stuff is too much? The answer is as different for everyone as we will explore further.

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