The Idea of Having

by J.D. Roth

“You know our house isn’t really cluttered, right?” Kris said last night.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“When you write about your battle with clutter, it makes it sound like we live in a house filled with junk. We don’t. Our house is pretty clean. You’ve just got a lot of stuff you’re holding onto that you don’t know how to get rid of.”

“That’s true,” I said.

Our house isn’t cluttered. Sometimes it gets messy, but that’s my doing. For example, the dining room table has been covered with personal finance magazines for the past week as I worked on a forthcoming article at Get Rich Slowly. Or before that, I had all of our exercise stuff (yoga mats, exercise ball, stretch bands, etc.) strewn across the floor. But it’s not like we have junk all over the place.

Instead, I have piles of Stuff in my office, in the guest room, and in the workshop. Even these piles are moderately neat.

“And you know why you can’t get rid of Stuff, don’t you?” Kris continued.

“Because I want it,” I said.

“You think you want it,” she said. “You like the idea of having certain things, but you don’t actually use them. You’ve got dozens of books stacked in the guest room. They’ve been there for a year. Have you needed any of those books in that time?”

“No,” I said.

“That’s my point. You can’t bring yourself to get rid of them, yet you don’t use them, either. So they sit there. You wouldn’t even notice if you got rid of them. You should just do it.”

As always, Kris Gates is right. The difficulty is forcing myself to move from acknowledgment to action. Tiffany has offered to help me get rid of my Stuff. Maybe I’ll take her up on the offer. Or maybe I’ll just pile everything in the workshop and let it sit there for another year or two…

Updated: 26 August 2008

Do what's right. Do your best. Accept the outcome.
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