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Jottings contributor Roy Houston shares thoughts on accumulating possessions, and how hard it is to get rid of them.

We work hard, live a good life and acquire a home full of memories. If you are really unlucky, it will be a big house with lots of storage that hides the extent of the memories that you have accumulated over the years. If you are really, really, unlucky, you will have lived in the big house with lots of storage for a very long time. You reach the peak of unluckiness if during that time you have done a lot of travelling. Then you reached the age of maturity and you begin to look into the future and recognize it no longer is ever expanding.

You start thinking about living in a place somewhere that requires a lot less work and expense to run.

It should not be hard, right? In your innocence, you decide to look in your cupboards, taking care to walk carefully through the accumulation of furniture that you have been living with. Being a cautious person, you open the cupboard door carefully and it was just as well that you did, as the pressure of the contained items, desperately trying to escape from the storage space, could have seriously damaged your person.

What a surprise! It is like Fibber Magee's closet! You did not know all of that was there! You almost injure yourself by tripping over the furniture behind as you step back in shock and amazement.

It is at that moment that you realize that you could be in trouble. It is a shocking discovery to find that your experience here is repeated through out the house, not to mention the garages and the multiple roof space areas.

Being a relatively calm and orderly person, you try to think of a way that you can declutter the house so that (1) You can have it decluttered, without hiring an outside storage unit; (2) you can discover other things to be done, hidden by the clutter, that can help charm the potential new owner of your house and (3) You can actually sell it.

You would think that it should not be too hard to get rid of the surplus, since you have always been a discriminating purchaser, right? You ask your family what they would like and you begin to suspect that you have a problem, as they turn on their respective heels, run like hell and refuse to talk to you for quite a long time.

At this point you take a closer look and realize that the items that you had bought at the height of their fashion are now the laughing stock of the world! Suddenly you look around you and realize that the home that you have lived in and loved for so many years is looking like you, a little worn around the edges, a bit dog eared and most seriously, ridiculously out of date.

Ouch!

Now in a panic you walk outside and discover the hot tub that you bought with such expectations has not been used in 10 years and when it was it leaked. So, having paid for its delivery, you now have to pay a significant amount more to have it dismantled, removed and disposed of. Oh dear!

The house of course needs painting, the garden tidying, decks and railing and doors need repairing, or worse, to be replaced. The list goes on.

You suddenly start to hallucinate and daydream of having your dead body plus all your possessions placed on a Viking ship sailing into the golden sunset with your trusty archer firing a flaming torch into its center and it all becoming a magnificent funeral pyre.

So, as we embark on our latest adventure to become the incredible shrinking household, I am not confident that I have the mental fortitude to survive it. I continue to be amazed at how dramatically our priorities in life change over time. Out goes bigger, better and newer. In comes smaller, simpler and familiar. High tech out, low tech in.

It is a pity that nobody warns you about this. Would you have listened? Probably not. I intend to tell anyone who will or might listen about the perils of accumulation. When I think about it, I never did find a good book on marriage, child rearing, planning for old age and its challenges, but maybe I just never looked.

Roy Houston is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.


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