A number of years ago we had the roof of our house converted into rooms leaving just the space above one bedroom for the water tank and miscellaneous storage. By the time the Christmas boxes and suitcases have been squeezed into this small area there is little room for much else. We have to be quite ruthless about what we keep that is not required regularly.
A water leak, now dealt with, caused some damage to a few pictures I had stored here recently. These needed to be disposed of so, last weekend, I decided to go through the accumulated boxes and clear out anything else that I felt we could part with. I find clear outs therapeutic. I am not a big hoarder but, over time, things do tend to be put away just in case they may one day be used again. They rarely are.
Unlike many people, we put our cars in our garage so have limited space for other things here. We have a shed for our bikes and a second shed for chicken feed, a few garden chairs and outdoor toys. As all require regular access they have to be carefully managed to prevent them being overrun with what is, essentially, junk.
Having gone through all of these spaces I now have a very full bin and a sizeable pile of items that need to be driven to the local dump. We still have far too much ‘stuff’ sitting around, but much of it is treasured by the children so will be held onto for the time being. It would be too much of a wrench for them to be made to get rid of the papier-mache and clay creatures they lovingly created, or the many DT projects of which they are proud.
As a teenager my bedroom evolved into something of a shrine to my memories of travel and romantic attachments. When I moved out of my parent’s home to start work in England I unceremoniously dumped most of the items that I had gathered over the years. In my mind I was starting afresh and wanted to put all of these things behind me. I think that my mother was more upset than me as she watched the cards and tokens of affection that had adorned my shelves and walls for so many years being consigned to the bin.
Although I like my home to be clean and comfortable I do not like clutter. I have photographs of my family on display but no longer hang pictures on the walls. The ornaments that remain generally have some sentimental value having been gifts from loved ones. I try to keep my home in good condition but will not fuss if marks or stains are left on furnishings in the course of using them. I prefer a relaxed and happy environment to a pristine one.
As I have got older I have found that my attitude to my possessions has changed. I no longer feel a need to put on a show or to try to impress. I like order and to know where I can find things, but beyond this I aspire only to comfort and reasonable hygiene. I have never felt the need to follow fashion and can live with a chosen decor for many years before tiring of it.
None of this means that I do not value the things that I have, but more that my priorities have changed. My reasons for holding on to possessions tend to be practical (they are in regular use) or emotional (they make me feel good). I hope that I will always be able to keep my books and teddy bears, however much space they take up or dust they gather.
I think it is important not to place too much value on material things. Perhaps this is just easy for me to say from my privileged perspective; I am well aware that I have all I need and more. I can get quite frustrated when my children seem to want so much; I need to remember that they have still to build their nests, that they are just beginning to create their own spaces.
My big clear out has inspired me to continue to sort through the things that we are using less than we once did. Our large collection of CDs could be put away as they are only used regularly in one car now so do not need to be kept beside our in house music player.
Sometimes my tidy ups unearth items that intrigue my children. I have held on to my original Sony Walkman only because it amuses one of my sons by it’s bulk and ability to play only a single cassette tape when the memory card on his phone can hold his entire music collection. Likewise my other son wishes to retain the first laptop my husband bought, which still works but has such limited memory and processor power that it cannot handle most modern software. These museum pieces entertain them, especially as we remember them as being so innovative.
The things that we have, that we choose to surround ourselves with, can say much about the people that we are. I wonder what others make of me from the way I have organised my home; what impression is given of the sort of person that I am. It is my sanctuary and my safe space; I am happiest when I am here. Would I even want to know what others may think that it tells them about me?