Packrat predilections

Packrat: a small rodent (genus Neotoma) that collects in its nest a great variety of small objects. An eccentric collector of miscellaneous objects.

Predilection: a preference, often formed as the result of personal disposition rather than from objective knowledge.

I’m working on an article for the local paper on clearing clutter, and as always when I have to gather my thoughts on some self-improvement topic I come face to face with my own short-comings.

Compared to many folks I’ve worked with my house is in order. But order is one thing; conscious is another. Much of what I have has accumulated willy-nilly over the years. Yes, I brought it into the house, but if I actually use 20% of it – or am even AWARE of it – I’d be impressed.

Take books, for example.

I buy a book. I read it (or not!) and put it on the shelf. Will I ever finish reading it or refer to it again?? Probably not. But it’s tidy and lines up nicely with all the other books on the shelf, so why move it? Occasionally I get a warm fuzzy feeling looking up at an old favorite, but that’s about the extent of my interaction with it for YEARS.

We all have our predilections for certain kinds of stuff. But one man’s collection is another man’s clutter. To someone who hates tschotchkes, a collection of ceramic roosters or angels is not just clutter, it’s a visual assault.

The tschtochke collector, however, might have been appalled by my former kitchen. Because I love to cook, my crammed cupboards and drawers weren’t clutter to me; they were my “working materials. ” When I moved a few years ago I was embarrassed to discover canned goods, spices, tools, and tableware that hadn’t been touched in a decade (or longer).

Clutter. I admit it now.

This morning I filled two boxes to the brim with books I will never read again. I’ll take them to Powell’s next week and what they can’t use I’ll give to the library.

What I want to end up with is a collection of books, each one of which I’ve consciously chosen to keep because I love it, need it and/or use it.

My clothes closet is next. ACK! Help me Jesus. (Just kidding)

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