A difficult but necessary question I ask myself while looking at every single item I own is: “Why keep this?” Sometimes, the answer is a clear “there is no reason,” so off it goes into the sell or donate piles to address later. However, for everything remaining, of which this is now the fourth box of random action figures or objects, the question begs a little more nuance. Every object here should have a justification.
These justifications don’t have to be thorough.
Anything better than justification through cheap acquisition is fine. Purchasing anything cheaply is no reason to continue owning that object. While the object might have been a good deal at the time, the mental cost of thinking about having to own the object and the physical cost of storing the object can eventually become a raw deal over time, no matter how small, when considering large collections of things.
What are valid justifications, then?
I have three examples within this photograph:
- Plastic Man (lower corner)
- Surface-level justification: Purchased for nearly free at a price-by-pound thrift store.
- Good justification: I’d like to see something with Plastic Man. Maybe I’ll like this currently obscure character?
- Ent (middle)
- Surface-level justification: Purchased cheaply at a thrift store. While I don’t care about LOTR, I have wanted to do a proper photograph of this figure for years…
- Good justification: I would still like to do so.
- Plastic tubing (left)
These justifications reminded me of something.
We’re superficially owned by objects. I could re-purchase any of these objects for a meager price with enough time. Only the playset pieces might require any significant time or money to reacquire. When I consider the price of land “ownership,” objects that were “nearly free” are no longer are “nearly free” if they cost a certain price per square footage. Some excess is fine. The space that Plastic Man toy will take up for another year, maybe square-inch and not-even ounce, isn’t that bad.
Currently, I’m just asking easy questions to my clutter.
Another good question is: “what value [do you/does this] provide to me?” That may sound cruel and harsh, but that’s just because hoarders like myself tend to accidentally personify objects or value everything equally. This exercise might start slow, especially if we can’t state the answers meaningfully. An object might hold some utilitarian value, vague nostalgic memories, or aesthetic pleasantries. The object might remind us of some inspirational situation/character or has some untapped potential. These are all perfectly fine justifications.
Just remember: none of these justifications should weigh us down.
I never understood the introduction to El Topo, where a mysterious man tells his son to bury his childhood toy, until now: I have to bury my childhood toys.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: I was working out some more professional things at the library and needed to purge out these thoughts. I was thinking about El Topo a little that day, and I’m happy with how it became a poignant stinger conclusion.|
|Related: Other Moving Zeal essays.|
|Photo: Controlled clutter?|
|Written On: December 3rd [1 hour]|
|Last Edited: December 12th [15 minutes] – Word counters are all different. Word, for example, counts numbers whereas WordPress doesn’t. Since this website uses WordPress, I took the differing word count as an excuse to tighten up the word choices. Much better.|