Monday, March 1, 2010

The Urge to Purge

Posted by Terry McNichols

Perhaps it is the coming of Spring and the new growth everywhere.  Or maybe (most likely) it is the fact that I've just returned from a visit to my elderly parents.  But whatever the reason, I am overwhelmed with the urge to purge.  I have often written about this matter and as we get older the need accompanying said urge gets stronger.  I don't want my children to have to take care of the accumulations of my lifetime.  Visiting consignment stores in Arizona with my parents reminded me that most of what we hold precious will just be piled onto shelves and rejected by most who see it, searching for some hidden treasure!  One of the ways I determine that my own "collections" hold little value is by seeing the prices put on them at such a store.

During this same vacation I was reading a book I thoroughly enjoyed (The Brief History of the Dead).  I found the topic fascinating, although hardly in line with any of the teachings of the afterlife to which I hold!  The book is based on the premise that the dead exist in a sort of limbo until the last person who remembers them dies.  Buried late in the book's pages, I found the following gem:

These knickknacks, these memories -- where had she collected them all?  Her apartment back home was practically an abandoned city of worthless objects:  acorns, plastic keys, and ten thousand other things she had no earthly use for.  But she had to admit that she liked having them there.  At some point, when you were fourteen or fifteen, before you reached adulthood or knew who you were, you had to to determine whether you were going to be the sort of person who held tight to every single thing that passed through your life, no matter how insignificant it was, or the sort of person who set it all adrift.  Life was easier on the people who were willing to relax their grip, but she had decided to be the other sort of person, the sort who wouldn't let go, and she had done her best to live up to that decision.
(Photo by Brent, shared via Flickr)

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