Today I lost my cool. It happens every once in a while. It comes from having a complicated family. Every last one of them suffers from a disease called ‘Can’t-Throw-Anything-Away-Itis.’ If they purchased something – ANYTHING- it means the item has value, and therefore, under no circumstances, can they, or will they, throw it away. They can sell it, of course, but if they do, the item will likely be priced at a value much greater than its worth.
To illustrate my point, today my brother’s old Jeep appeared at our house. It was sitting on top of a flatbed tow truck. That meant my brother was dumping his old, non-running, vehicle on our property. I had no idea it was coming. I had no recollection of anyone talking to me about their Jeep being dumped on the front lawn of our house. That’s because no one did. So I lost it on the poor tow truck driver, who, by the way, was very sympathetic to my frustration. But I lost the argument anyway and the Jeep was left in the makeshift driveway on the side of our house. Why? Because my brother thought he could get some money for the 20-year-old, multi-colored (thanks to multiple accidents), broken down, worthless piece of junk. Truly, it’s an eyesore. But the frustrating part about the whole thing was that he had his own house to dump it at. But that’s another story. The fact that he couldn’t take it to the junkyard and get rid of it, or donate it, gives you a pretty good idea as to how this horrid disease works.
But he’s not the only one in my family with this disease. There are countless items in the garage that I have tried to throw away, but was stopped because “they were worth something.” Funny, but when I look at all that stuff, all I see is junk.
Maybe it’s a little too easy for me to throw things away when I’m done using them, or when they become defective. I don’t know. But it wasn’t always that way. I was a bit of a hoarder, too. As I said, ‘Can’t-Throw-Anything-Away-itis has afflicted my whole family. So, unfortunately, that included me for the first half of my life. But I overcame the disease many years ago when I lost everything. It’s a whole lot easier to part company with your belongings after you’ve lost everything a time or two. That’s when you learn that nothing other than your life and the lives of your loved ones has any real value.
The odd thing about having ‘Can’t-Throw-Anything-Away-Itis is that the people who have the disease are unaware that they have it. Like everybody else, they forget about their old stuff. They put it somewhere, leave it, and never think about it again. They may even forget ever having owned some of their old stuff. But when you try to throw any of it out, anyone afflicted with this horrible disease will immediately know it’s gone. And, they will immediately want it back because they suddenly need it. It’s a sad, sad thing to watch.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this illness – well, not unless you’re willing to lose everything like I did. But I don’t recommend doing that because losing everything is painful. What I recommend instead, however, is, if you have a lot of junk in your home, stuff you or your loved ones can’t part with, start small. Throw one, small, insignificant thing out at a time. Since everything to the hoarder is significant, this will be a challenge, so you have to go slow.
Try to throw one thing out a month. Now here’s the really hard part about this – don’t replace it with anything. As much as I know you’re going to want to, don’t run out to the store and buy some bauble or something to fill the space that was left behind. That will just get you further behind the eight ball. Stick to your guns. That’s important. And when you feel yourself caving in, remember this – not everything you spend money on has value after you’ve used it. Some junk is just junk.
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