Archive for the ‘Hoarding’ Tag

Moving   Leave a comment

And Preparing for It

I am preparing to move for the first time in thirteen years.  My new home is only four or five miles away, depending on the route, so I will remain in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.

The time for moving is right.  My lease will expire in fourteen days.  I need to leave my apartment and neighborhood, given how many memories of Bonny permeate both of them.  And, by grace, I have a much better place to which to go.

I have been downsizing in stages consistently since the summer of 2016.  A hoarder’s house scared the hell out of me.  I have never been a hoarder or close to being one, but I have had a burdensome overabundance of certain items.  I have been downsizing again with zeal as my deadline as the gap between my present day and the deadline to move out has shortened.  I resumed immediately after Bonny died on October 14, 2019.  Since that date, I have been extravagantly generous to thrift stores.  I have made plans for one more act of generosity to my favorite charity, Project Safe (which helps battered women), early next week.

My father was a United Methodist minister in southern Georgia, U.S.A..  We moved every two years, on average.  Certain boxes remained unopened and left in storage between moves.  For example, I remember one day, the day prior to a move out of a parsonage we had inhabited for three years.  We were loading the moving truck.  I opened a closet and saw boxes of books.  I remembered having placed those books in that that closet three years prior.  We had not thought about those books for three years.  Yet we moved them again.

I understand why one may choose to keep some items in storage.  I keep family archives, for example.  Good reasons for keeping certain items in storage can exist.  I intend to keep my maternal grandfather’s ring, for example.  Nevertheless, if one can live comfortably without using an item for a year, one should ask oneself whether one should keep it.  My zealous downsizing testifies that my answer has usually been “no.”

My policy with books, for example, is that they belong on bookcases, not in boxes, in the long term.  More than once during any given year, I reconsider my library and decide which books to keep and which ones to send elsewhere.  I choose to impose the discipline of limited book space on myself.  How can I best use that space?

Downsizing can be liberating.  Knowing that my move will be easier than it would have been feels good.  Certain possessions, in proper quantities, can enrich life.  We cannot take those possessions with us when we die, however.  And I have no intention of imposing a great burden upon those who, in time, will decide the fates of my possessions after I die.  Downsizing is considerate and respectful of them.




The Joys of Reducing the Quantity of Possessions   Leave a comment

An Account of Deliberate and Purposeful Activity, as Well as Serendipity

I used to have a pattern:  I reduced the quantity of my possessions, accumulated too much again, and repeated the cycle.  One summer, years ago, for example, I sold about 1000 books to a family.  Then, over time, I build up my library again.  Then I needed to purge it again.  The trigger for it was helping a local hoarder who, quite frankly, offended and scared the hell out of me.  She was endangering her health and the health of her son; that offended me, for both of them deserved better, and her son did not ask for his circumstances.  Her excess inspired me to commence a material purge of staggering proportions, not that I was ever close to being as possessed by my possessions as she was.

During the subsequent years I have undertaken occasional, less dramatic acts of reducing my possessions.  Instituting the policy of reconsidering possessions throughout each year has been a wise decision.  This week, while searching for my digital camera (which I had forgotten I had left in my car), I spent much of a night emptying bookshelves and spraying and wiping them.  Along the way I filled two boxes with books to donate.  It was an unplanned act of weeding out my library, which remains relatively large, compared to the collections of many people.  Now I have reduced my library to about 700 volumes–about right for me.  My library used to be about 2,400 books.

I have begun to donate the weeded books.  I have given the Lutheran denominational histories to Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Athens, Georgia.  I have made plans to add the other volumes to the library at my parish, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, where I serve as the librarian, tomorrow.

I have also reduced my wardrobe so that it fits into one medium-sized closet easily.

I have more than one reason for doing all this.  One is consideration for other people, especially those who will have to pack up and dispose of my possessions after my death, whenever that will happen.  Ideally they will be able to complete that task between breakfast and supper, with a break for lunch, in one day.  Other reasons are purely aesthetic and selfish.  I like seeing walls and floors.  I adore having empty surfaces.  I like being able to see almost all of my kitchen counter tops, for example.  If I own an object, it must occupy space.  Too much occupied space causes me stress.  As scripture says,

Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.

–Luke 12:15, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Indeed, too much abundance detracts from the quality of life.  Furthermore, excessive abundance proves burdensome.  Is freedom from such a burden not a virtue?

For now I am content with the volume of my possessions.  A year from now, assuming I will be alive (as I hope to be) then, I will probably have less in that category.  Maybe owning fewer books and movies will be a good idea.  The occasional reviews will continue.  Along the way I intend to keep what I use, what enriches me, and what I need, as well as to add that which I should add.  I also mean to continue to strive to follow the rule that, except in a month in which I move from one abode to another, the combined volume of that which I remove from my home and decide not to bring into should exceed the volume of what I bring into it.




Downsizing   Leave a comment

Above:  My Desk, April 25, 2017

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor


I recall a story a co-worker at a previous place of employment told me years ago.  She and her sister were cleaning out the home of their recently departed mother.  One of the sisters was removing boxes from a shelf when she found a box labeled


It contained strings too short to use.

I have never been that bad.

I have, from time to time, rid myself of a large number of possessions at in short periods of time.  Usually this has happened prior to moving.  A few years ago, in the space of less than one hour, I sold about 1,500 books to someone.  I had about 1,000 books left.  On other occasions I have filled up part of my car and made large donations to thrift stores.  I have also been generous in making donations of books to college libraries.

For about a year now I have been in a nearly continuous mode of downsizing.  This started when a friend and I were helping her friend, a hoarder.  I had to leave the hoarder’s house, which was disturbing in a plethora of ways, as well as unsanitary.  My apartment was far from being a hoarder’s home and from being unsanitary, but I resolved to downsize.  So I did.  For a few days I was extravagantly generous to a thrift store.  I have also made smaller donations to individuals and thrift stores over the past few months.

I have entered a mode whereby I donate items to a thrift store every other week or so.  Life does not, after all, consist of the abundance of possessions, as the Bible says.  In reality, the overabundance of possessions detracts from the quality of life.  Also, I should act out of consideration with regard to those who might have to clean out my home after I die, whenever that will happen (hopefully not for a while).

I am down to between 850 and 900 books.  That is a good count for me, for I use books.  The count is not the best measurement, though, for books come in a range of sizes and thicknesses.  The real standard is book space, which is finite and easy to monitor visually.  I have x amount of book space; so be it.  I must not exceed it.  After a while, adding volumes to the library becomes a zero-sum game; a book I have not consulted for a long time and probably will not revisit must go away.  Thus I also become increasingly picky about what to add to the library.

I like open spaces and empty desk tops.  I do not like too many dust collectors.  I also like having recently found a way to fit all my clothing neatly into one of two closets in my bedroom.  Sometimes more is less.