Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Spring Cleaning

“Oh my gosh!” I exclaimed, picking up a tattered piece of paper as though I had found a secret treasure map worth billions of dollars.
“What is it?”
“My Year 7 German exam,” I replied, still in disbelief that I had kept it.

So a day was spent cleaning up after I had moved. Admittedly, I have moved for over four years, but being away from home for most of that time had left little time to do so. The fact that I am a big proponent of procrastination didn’t help either.

There was the inevitable flood of memories as I walked into my old place – the smells, the sites, my old room – and I realised how far I had come from living there and where I live now. I can know visualise why we moved and the positives from the change.

Looking at my room, it was still quite full of things I had accumulated over a healthy twenty odd years living there. Just before moving, I did not spend too much time there apart from sleeping, since most of my time over weekends was spent involved in constructing the new family home. There were boardgames, video games, pens, textas, coins, old gadgets (incl. my very first walkman!), old newspaper clippings, over 10 packets of tissues, expired medication….I had forgotten that I had a that much stuff there!

My reluctance to discard any of these objects was met with harsh resistance.

Why do you need that?” my designated helper said with more than a slight hint of exasperation for the umpteenth time. The excuses ranged from great memories to it being virtually irreplaceable. Of course I could hardly argue with the retorts along the lines of:

“It has sat here for the last four years and you never missed it”
“Are you really going to use that again?”
“You have no space for that.”
“You are a hoarder” – whoa! That was a personal attack!

I was resigned to the fact that I was not going to get anything cleaned up without getting rid of some of the clutter. Also, I did not have the luxury of space in the new place to migrate all the old stuff with my new stuff. So out came the rubbish bags as a filled them up one by one. I could almost feel a collective sigh as I knew I would never see some of these ever again.

I had definitely hoarded a lot of stuff over the years and to be honest, the more I looked at it, the more I felt that it represented a past which felt like a lifetime away. There was definitely a wealth of memories which bobbed to the surface during that day of cleaning. In the end though, I realised that things which I thought were important in the past may not be so important now. In a way, I have moved on from my life of living in that other house and have progressed to where I am now – and I am thankful. Sure each had pros and cons – but by having that basis for comparison, I can now appreciate what I had back then, and what I have now.

Just like any statistical analysis, with more data points there typically comes better information. Without changes or variations, it is hard to really evaluate one's situation. In any case, I think it is time to continue my spring cleaning and see how I can reduce all the clutter and peripheral items and focus on those areas which deserve (and demand) my attention. Or perhaps more data points are needed to create a baseline for comparison. Back to the spring cleaning!