Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2018 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is "Cleaning the Clutter"--I might literally be cleaning my closets or figuratively clearing the excess from some other part of my life. I'm sure you can think of other things this could mean for you as well.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Enigmas of Acquisition (#AtoZChallenge)




Humans are creatures of attachment with an innate desire to own things.  Wealth is usually associated with accumulated assets and ownership.  With that comes power.  Most of us want to have--even expect to have--electricity in our homes.  This is one symbol of the wealth of a society.   When we have that electrical power in our homes then we can feel a kinship to the elite, but whoever owns that power that is delivered to us has the real power over the rest of us and even they have to answer to higher powers...







Enigmas of Acquisition

        The things we hang onto in life are as varied as the people who hang onto those things.  What you like might seem to be of no value to me and my stuff might appear to be something that needs to be tossed out to the observer who is not interested in my life.

          Why we keep what we do is often an enigma to others.   Holding on to the truly useful or the valuable as perceived by those who make such appraisals probably makes sense to all of us, but that ratty old T-shirt or outdated computer keyboard that we insist on keeping in the closet with all of our other questionable stuff becomes the mystery that only the owner can adequately address with passion or at least some halfhearted defense.

      When our ownership of something has become the puzzler to which we find no answer then perhaps it is time to get rid of it.   Maybe someone else wants that thing that has become useless to us or maybe no one anywhere wants it.  Yes, some things reach a point where they are pointless to keep.  Time to recycle if you can, or just toss it into the trash.

       Yet there are still those odd things that feel like I should continue to retain.  If someone asks me why, then I'll come up with some kind of answer whether it makes sense to them or not.  As long as it continues to make sense to me then it stays.  Even though my argument to keep some relic of my past might make some sort of sense whether convoluted or entirely reasonable, if I want to keep it then it stays--for a while at least.  Until the next time I'm sifting through the detritus of my life.

       Why we humans keep the things we do might be an enigma known to the heart of the keeper, and even then the reasons for hanging on to that thing can be a mystery to any logical thought.  Human beings seem to have a need to possess things.  Even the homeless I see wandering my community push purloined shopping carts filled with the stuff of their lives and those without carts carry what they own on their backs or perhaps hidden away at some encampment they've called home for now.

        Whatever our possessions ultimately mean to us or anyone else, there is one certain fact:  You can't take it with you when you die.  Our storehouse of earthly acquisitions will be passed on to our heirs who will ponder the enigma of what was ours.  Our lives summed up in piles of stuff that others have to figure out what to do with it all.  It's the enigma that we all have faced or will face eventually.

           Can you effectively explain reasons for having kept everything that you still own?   Are there "mystery items" that you've had so long that you've forgotten their significance and yet are hesitant to toss out?    Why do you think that we humans feel the need to amass acquisitions of things?   














58 comments:

  1. You probably need to refer to Vidya Sury's letter C! She had us mentally clearing the clutter as well as physically.
    Sometimes it's hard to get rid of things that hold memories - that t-shirt is from college, you know. Never mind it's dirty, torn and five sizes too small for me! (That gives me an idea for some flash fiction).
    But I have been decluttering this weekend gone, and it's interesting to find those enigmas of acquisition that mean so much to me and absolutely nothing to the world at large. But if they now mean nothing to me - out!
    Jemima

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    1. Jemima, I guess if we didn't form attachments with things we'd all be nomads just searching for food and little more. Finding meaning and memories in things is part of what makes us human.

      Lee

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  2. Everythiing I own has precious memories......my reason to hanging on to them. They remind me of people no longer with me and people who don;t want me in their lives.

    Great post for your letter "E" Lee.

    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, I think you nailed part of it. Things can represent people, places, and times of our lives. Sometimes we like to remember.

      Lee

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  3. Both my husband and I have things that we hang on to for sentimental reasons. He tends to more than I do. I used to really wonder about why, but as we've grown as a couple, I understand his reasons.

    Elsie

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    1. Elsie, I've always hung onto things, but so do a lot of the women I know. It's good that you understand your husband even though you don't see things like he does.

      Lee

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  4. Great post Arlee thanks! Enigma - even the word sounds mysterious. One person's clutter may be another's prize for who knows what reason ... and it is not for me to reason why! As to your question as to why people need to amass stuff and have more more more? Who knows - maybe some deep seated desire to show that they can?

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    1. Susan Scott, "enigma" is one of those words I like. Perhaps possessions represent power to some of us or security to others. Personal enigmas are many and sometimes the person doesn't even know what those enigmas mean.

      Lee

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  5. I used to have a real issue with tangible accumulation, I've gotten better. With my daughters I have a harder time, but I'm sure that's struggling with letting go of their infancy and toddler-hood. Some things I keep are so I have something tangible to connect myself with all the loss I've experienced in my life.

    My largest struggle in accumulation though is my own mental accumulation. Memories, thoughts, that's the stuff I wish I could really dump.

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    1. Shopgirl, some memories are probably nearly impossible to shake and often it's just a matter of acceptance and adaptation.

      Lee

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  6. Some items I have kept are almost at an icon level. My late brother Robert gave me a tee shirt in 1996 and he died in 1997. It hung in my closet, unworn for nearly 20 years.

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    1. Susan Kane, I can understand that. When a person is gone we only have artifacts by which to retain some contact with them. I have many of the items that belonged to my parents and I don't want to let those things go for now.

      Lee

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  7. This post reminds me of a true story from The Titanic. A 1st Class passenger is ready to go on the life boat and she says she can't yet and runs to her stateroom. You see all the jewels around but she grabs a simple ceramic pig. She had no care for the jewels but only for her piggy. She mentioned that it was her good luck charm and went everywhere with her. I think we keep many items because of the memories we have placed on the item. We may consider an item lucky like that lady or people think it will become valuable later on. I do go through a room each week, and get rid of one item...that has helped actually.

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    1. Birgit, one item, one room--I like that idea. Each of us has our own specific reasons for hanging on to certain things and I'd say we don't even know why exactly ourselves.

      Lee

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    2. I learned that from Vidya Sury who is part of the A to Z each year and is a wonderful lady

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  8. I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff over the years. Every time we moved, things got left. Some of it, a few things, I wish I still had. I am starting to feel the stuff closing in on me in my office. I need to get rid of it!

    http://findingeliza.com/

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    1. Kirstin, I can think of a few things that have just disappeared from my life and I've missed them. Other things I've intentionally gotten rid of and now wish I'd kept them--like my electric train set from childhood (valuable now and sold for a pittance when I thought I needed the money more) and certain vinyl albums (I did keep some and glad that I did--for now). Things accumulate as time goes by and they start becoming noticeably in our way.

      Lee

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  9. Treasures that lie in "the heart of the keeper" - and all around the house - are memories we can touch. If and when memories fade, treasures become less important.
    I wouldn't worry too much about ridding yourself of memories (for the sake of clearing clutter), there are folks now who take of it for a small percentage of the proceeds they get.
    Somewhere I have a small ceramic pig with wings. I actually hid it away the last time we had the Spring cleaning bug. Now I can't find it ;-)

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    1. Diedre, my sister hired somebody to sell off most of her possessions when she moved back to TN from Phoenix after her husband died. Undoubtedly for a pittance of what she paid for it all, but thus is the outcome of liquidation.

      Maybe your winged pig flew away? Or purloined to the trash? It will probably turn up again when you are least expecting it. I find that type of situation to be a magical moment that can create a flood of memories.

      Lee

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  10. Your theme for this year is a very timely topic for me as well, now in my early 60's and just beginning the work of decluttering. So much of what we keep is an emotional attachment rather than a practical one. I can't always explain it to others, sometimes I can't explain my unwillingness to let go to even myself, in that it is surely an enigma. What I am learning is that photos can suffice as memory starters, we don't have to keep boxes full of objects in storage just to remember our lives by. If it's useful, keep it, if it's precious, keep it, otherwise let it go! Lighter feels so much better, and our kids will surely thank us some day! :-)

    Visit me at Josie Two Shoes

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    1. Josie, I think I could explain most of my possessions, but I don't know how convincing my explanations would be to others. I've been taking your advice for the most part--a lot has gone out of the house because it no longer served any purpose to us.

      Lee

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  11. My husband is on the verge of being an enigmatic hoarder. I, on the other hand, would relinquish most all of it, only keeping the necessary and special. Although my kids are rooting for me, it's a battle he's winning. I pity them if I bow out first and leave the mess in his hands. Great post!
    Kimberly

    Passing Down the Love A-Z

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    1. Kimberly, there is a sense of freedom to unencumberance. But if a hoard is stored neatly and in a well-organized manner you never know when a pay-off will come--probably never, but it can happen.

      Lee

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    2. Oh, boy. That's his philosophy exactly. He IS fairly neat about it, but he panics if there is an empty space against the wall of his garage... I'm waiting (im)patiently for the payoff.

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  12. What a great word for E and you used it well, Arlee! I still have the hand mixer my mom used when I was young. Each time I use it in front of others, they comment that it is probably time to upgrade. One person even bought me a new one, which I later sold at a garage sale, brand new.

    Emily In Ecuador | Emily in Puerto Lopez

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    1. Emily, I recall various hand mixers in our household as I was growing up. Those early ones were pretty heavy duty so I'm not surprised it would still be around. They don't make some things as good as they used to.

      Arlee Bird
      Tossing It Out

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  13. I have a box where I keep stuff that I don't need but can't throw out. I had a pithy name for it that I've forgotten though the years. I check it out periodically, and I find that I can release some things from it from time to time.

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    1. Liz, now I'm curious about the pithy name.

      Lee

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  14. Living with a tribe that lost everything and can only claim the land they are returning to, I am learning a love for simplicity. The earth they own and their children are tomorrow's hope. I hope I can put more stock in those things and less in grandma's rocking chair.
    Thanks Arlee for another year to A to Z.
    https://moondustwriter.com/2018/04/05/education-children-atozchallenge/

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    1. Leslie, I'd like to own a nice piece of land somewhere. I dream, but I'm not sure that my dreams will turn out like I envision.

      Thanks for your support for A to Z.

      Lee

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  15. Can I explain? Hell no, never tried. The only test my heirlooms have to pass is, do they make sense TO ME. Fortunately, I do have a line I draw, and if something finally crosses it, out it goes.

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    1. CW, it can be difficult to accurately describe feelings.

      Lee

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  16. Oh boy....it might take me a couple of comments to get through the ideas you have stirred up in my head! Many of us don't throw out things because; "As soon as I throw that keyboard out, I'm going to need it!" This is the absolute truth, and you will definitely need that keyboard, but it you throw it out with 9 other things, the key is to concentrate on the 9 things that got thrown out, and not the one "see, see, I told you so....I told you I needed that!"

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    1. BTW, the debate of throwing out things we "might need" was was in a full blown "back and forth" this morning at a meeting at my place of employment! Where? You guessed it, the electric power generating facility! A place not as "powerful" as one might think!

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    2. As noted; I bought my house from my friends mother who died and left all kings of stuff. She was a child of the Great Economic Depression in the US. NOTHING was EVER thrown out; used screws, balls of string, old rolls of tape, paint sticks, and on and on. The funny part is, growing up, all my friends homes had tons of "old" paper shopping bags. All of us who laughed about it now have tons of "old" plastic shopping bags...Now that's progress!!!

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    3. It's funny when we go to estate sales and see all the drawers full of stuff they saved... hubby and I laugh... as our drawers often have the same thing. I wonder, what will my kids do with all my stuff? I'm sure they roll their eyes behind my back! But sometimes your "stuff" makes you happy. Life is short... Be Happy.

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    4. There are just certain things that many of us naturally keep. I have a huge bag of plastic grocery bags that I always saved to use as liners in my smaller trash cans. It seemed like I would just keep accumulating them because I didn't go through them that fast. Then California instituted the plastic bag ban and insisted on people using reusable bags. At least I'll have a long supply of trash can liners that will eventually run out.

      Lee

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  17. Clutter... I promised to declutter my house when I retired last June. LOL that hasn't panned out so well. I did manage to give my children all their "stuff" I'd held onto for years, but somehow I thought it would have made a bigger dent! I vowed to never collect anything else... until I began buying my granddaughter Nancy Drew books. Well I fell down the rabbit hole again... I loved reading Nancy Drew as a young girl, and sadly didn't keep my books. In scouring places for books for her, I found many of those books I once had, and you guessed it... I began collecting them again for me also!!! I fell in love with them so much that I wrote my A to Z on All About Nancy Drew this year. https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/category/2018-a-to-z-all-about-nancy-drew/

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    1. Jeanne, there are some books that I no longer have that I might like to have in my collection again. I've even bought some replacements. Just like you!

      Lee

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  18. Zulu Delta.....Observations of an Un-Observing World https://zuludelta45.net/

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  19. At times I am ok with tossing out things. But, somethings just stay for life..no?

    Tongue Twister for F

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    1. DeeDee, I think that is true. There are some of my things that I'd never consider willfully throwing out.

      lee

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  20. Over the years I have become less of a hoarder more of a declutter bug, which I believe is a good thing. But then it's also weird how at times I trash something and then after a few days I feel I could have done with it, and begin to miss it. The complexities of our human mind.
    I'd told you I was to start decluttering, but haven't managed to find time yet between the A-Z scramble. Sigh! Hopefully soon I suppose.

    Natasha
    natashamusing

    April Anecdotes
    Far Far Away

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    1. Natasha, yes I've had that happen to me--throw stuff away and then have declutterer's remorse. Good luck with your clean up projects.

      Lee

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  21. There are definitely things my husband keeps that I wonder about but MY stuff all has meaning :) Sentimental value and/or the possible collectors value is what most of it is.
    Janet’s Smiles

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    1. Janet, yeah, sometimes the other person's stuff is a mystery and then other things we know pretty much why they've saved it. I can usually find meaning in just about anything.

      Lee

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  22. Lee,

    You asked, Can you effectively explain reasons for having kept everything that you still own?? I think at one time I could argue why I held on to any one thing but these days I'm not so convincing even to myself. It should make sorting easier but emotions still linger in every article in our home.

    You also wanted to know, Are there "mystery items" that you've had so long that you've forgotten their significance and yet are hesitant to toss out? I don't think I do but I'd bet my last two cents DH does. We'll see if when these so-called mysteries surface.

    Your final question, Why do you think that we humans feel the need to amass acquisitions of things? That's a good question and I really don't have the right response for this other than we're emotional creatures who tie events or feelings to objects or perhaps it's just as simple as we're just material.

    Thanks for sharing and for hosting the A2Z Challenge, my friend!

    Curious as a Cathy
    A2Z iPad Art Sketch ‘Eyes’

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    1. Cathy, I love the way you answer my questions. And the Challenge is mostly fun because of all the folks participating. Thanks for sticking with us!

      Weird things can pop up at anytime from any place. When one of those things appear I'm usually compelled to keep it.

      Lee

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  23. It truly distresses me when I can't remember who gave me a gift. I keep those kinds of things in the hope that eventually I'll remember. I'm not apt to throw them away. I loved this: the stuff of their lives...
    Calen~
    Impromptu Promptlings

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    1. Calensariel, I loved your comment! Keep on visiting!

      Lee

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  24. I freely admit I've only held onto certain things I own (or was coercively given by my ex) because I don't like giving things away, particularly if I spent money on them. A lot of the junk from my ex came at a hefty price, as I used to buy his eBay stuff from him, or be strongly pressured into buying it because he needed the money.

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    1. Carrie-Anne, yikes! That doesn't sound very good.

      Lee

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  25. Just this last Christmas there were discussions as we decorated the tree about the things in the decoration boxes that just needs to be thrown away but we tell ourselves maybe next year. I did manage to throw away some glass balls that we slightly tarnished.

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    1. Maryann, last year we got rid of several Christmas decoration items, but we still have more than we usually use.

      Lee

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  26. Enjoying the posts. Yes I need to purge!

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    1. Mike, glad you came back to binge on all my posts at once.

      Lee

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  27. My mother in law is of the "things = love" school of thought. Her house is jam packed with "things". She has closets stuffed to the rafters and cabinets and chests full and she keeps buying. She buys stuff for us we don't want or need and then WE'RE stuck trying to find a place for it (I get rid of most of it, but sometimes she asks about stuff so you have to be careful). Every time we go to her house (and she isn't a hoarder; she's also a clean freak), we think about how we're going to have to get rid of 95% of it when she and my father in law die.

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    1. Dyanne, I guess we all have our weird buying moments, but some people I've seen get fixated with buying stuff. I've known people who sound like your mother-in-law.

      Lee

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Lee