Julie Seedorf: How much of stuff we own is just clutter?

Published 9:30 pm Sunday, July 1, 2018

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf


I realized I don’t own a sweatshirt. I don’t remember when I quit buying sweatshirts. It hasn’t been on my radar that I am missing sweatshirts in my drawers and closets but it struck me as funny that in my entire wardrobe there is not one sweatshirt. They used to be my go-to for cold days.

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Someone asked me recently if I am a pack rat? I answered no, but then after I thought about it — I am a pack rat of some things. This was very apparent recently as I was transferring my office to another room and closing down my husband’s office that he doesn’t use any more. I would have to say I probably am not the only pack rat in the family.

How many scarves do I need to bundle up with in the winter? Or gloves? I have an entire drawer full of winter gloves. I now know where they are after picking them out of various places in my house.

Recycling became the home to years of insurance books that hadn’t made it off the shelves or bookcases or filing cabinets. Was I keeping them to compare my coverage from 10 years ago to now? That would be a good excuse to give to my family if it was true.

I felt like the cat calling the kettle black when I asked my spouse how many hammers one person needed, or how many screwdrivers of every shape and form. And caulk. We could caulk our entire home and our neighbor’s home with all the unopened caulk I found.

The goodwill boxes are piling up. The walls are getting barer and the drawers are looking empty and organized. In fact I now have boxes and boxes of empty hanging file folders ready to go to a new home.

As you might guess, organization isn’t my strong suit. I seem to believe I function better in my unorganized clutter.

I once helped a friend of mine go through a home of a friend of hers who one day packed up a small truck and moved his family. They couldn’t get everything in the truck. My friend volunteered to pack it up and put it in storage until they could return for it. She volunteered to clean the house and get it ready for sale. My friend had no idea what she was volunteering for. When we entered the home it looked like the family was still there with all their belongings including clothes. We realized they took very little with them.

We couldn’t believe they moved without the things in their home but now looking back, it might have been a good way to purge their life, leaving most of it behind in their home for my friend to take care of. The cabinets, closet, floors and basement were full of stuff which still had price tags on them. They got lost in the disorganization.  Life was in such disarray they couldn’t handle it, and the way they dealt with it was to leave it behind for my friend to fix. They never did claim their storage container.

The reason I am purging is that I don’t want to leave my life of things behind for my children to have to muddle through. Sifting through my messy life, I knew the reason for so many hammers, umpteen gloves and many tablecloths, etc. When we couldn’t find an item we needed, we purchased it again, much like the owners of the home my friend sorted through.

I recently went to an estate sale. I always find them intriguing. You can tell so much about a person’s life and personality by what they leave behind. I also find it sad because it is strangers picking through what was once important to someone. How much of the “stuff” we leave behind is just clutter because we our lives become out of control and unmanageable?

The bigger question for me is this — once I am clutter-free, will I fill my house up again before it is time to retreat from my abode all together? Will I once again hold on to that which I don’t need but think I need?

While sifting through my creative conglomeration of valuables, not only did I not own a sweatshirt but I also did not find my favorite sweater that I knew would be unearthed from the bottom of a pile of clothes in one of my closets. I have a feeling it hid in a box on the way out the door wanting to go to a closet where it could be admired, having its own spot on a hanger to live on a neatly ordered life.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.